Reviving On-Train Food Services

Passenger expectations have changed to favour comfortable, flexible mobility options with value for money playing a key role. Season is a digital approach to on-train food services, where passengers are provided with an affordable, on-demand range of food and beverages. It is an opportunity to reclaim lost market and focus on availability, sustainability and improved profit. This case study was initiated by an open call for innovation in collaboration with FlixTrain.



FlixTrain Call For Innovation


Since 2021




Strategic design

Industrial design

Business design

Service design

Digital design

Season is a digital on-board catering service. Fresh ingredients and sustainable circularity enable quality, on-demand meals for passengers and improved profit stability for operators.

On-train services today

With the restaurant carriage often being centrally located on the train, many passengers are seated further away than is convenient. Strict regulations within the food industry also cause frequent service and operational disruptions, and the restaurant may be closed completely.


As a result, passengers have adapted their travel behaviour by planning ahead and buying food from cheap alternatives at the station. The F&B infrastructure is therefore under-utilised, takes up a lot of on-board seating capacity and causes significant financial burdens over profit for operators.

Fresh variety

Food services at train stations have the advantage of selling fresh, low-priced food to go. Traditional on-train services tend to be more expensive and take significantly longer. Season’s hybrid vending machines combine the best of both worlds: A variety of fresh goods are available immediately, at an affordable price point.


Digitalised technical components complement each other. Season’s vending compartment is cooled to house all fresh food and drinks. Complimentary beverage components make use of the filtered water dispenser, which can also carbonate and heat. By combining items from the vending machine with water, Season’s F&B portfolio range is extremely modular and flexible.

Food can be pre-ordered when buying a ticket
Passengers can enjoy seasonal variation and many healthier options

Predicting demand

Operators can forecast the number of F&B customers using predictive technology. Season app users will always be given priority seating near the hybrid vending machines when pre-ordering. Smart algorithms can also situate potential on-demand customers in close vicinity to the F&B area. The simulation of this approach revealed that the physical space required to operate Season is significantly more viable than the comparable passenger seat capacity.

Season customers have priority seating near vending machine


Season is designed for circularity. As the name suggests, the menu can be changed seasonally depending on availability, encouraging ingredients to be sourced locally. Customers are given incentives to return the smart, reusable packaging to the on-board deposit system. On return, the packaging is identified to automatically initiate the digital payback process.

QR code system for easy recycling


Every operator has different requirements when providing F&B services. With Season’s digital and modular approach, the system can be adapted to suit the operator’s individual business model or fleet. Most importantly, Season is designed with the future in mind. The service can be scaled by positioning hybrid vending machines at stations, or by incorporating external partners that deliver goods to the train, on-demand.

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