Gramorail is more than just an “art-car”—it is a platform for discourse and contemplation about how we can collectively leverage the vast possibilities left behind by abandoned rail infrastructure, and the large volumes of contiguous space that it occupies. Railroads, in their most essential form, are connective threads that weave together areas, communities, regions, and ultimately, countries; they are corridors that in the past opened up seemingly infinite possibilities, made possible epic journeys, and supported vast acts of both creation and destruction.
The legacy of the railroad in North America has waned as the era of the aeroplane and automobile have become the dominant logistical force, railroads giving way to runways and freeways. However, the iron roads left behind still hold a great promise—the potential to connect, create, and move great communities and their collective ideas.
Gramorail is a tool for surveying, exploring, and mapping this potential, both geographically and conceptually.
Gramorail began with a vision by the Vancouver Design Nerds to design and build pedal-powered cars that would connect to one another and form a human-powered “party train”—a train that could be paraded along unused rail corridors in Vancouver. Gramorail brings attention to the city’s rich rail heritage and promotes a sustainable mode of transportation.
Over the last year the project has taken on an identity of its own and the spectacular vision has been realized with the completion of two railcars. Built by an ever-growing cast of contributors, including members of the Vancouver Design Nerds in partnership with eatART, the railcars are a kinetic sculpture that acts both as vehicle and stage.
It features a sound system projected through a larger-than-life gramophone, a hand-crafted chess board, and 100 feet of track that can be transported to public events, celebrations and festivals in Vancouver and beyond. Powered by an “engine” of 4 people on the locomotive car, the Gramorail can accommodate 6 to 8 passengers in the luxurious and finely crafted gramophone passenger car.
Gramorail’s future is to continue to seek out opportunities to travel the great abandoned railroads of North America, venturing increasingly further afield in pursuit of insight and generative discussion about the future of rail on this continent, and about the spaces in and around which it takes place.