A railway coach - also known as a railway carriage in the UK- is a vehicle designed to convey passengers by rail. A railway coach can be self-propelled such as a railcar, form part of a multiple unit of self-propelled vehicles, or be pulled or pushed by one or more locomotives either singly or together with other coaches. Railway coaches vary in their internal fittings. In standard gauge cars, seating is usually three, four, or five seats across the width of the car, with an aisle in between or at the side.
Tables may be present between seats facing one another. Alternatively, seats facing the same direction may have access to a fold-down ledge on the back of the seat in front. If the aisle located between seats, seat rows may face the same direction, or be grouped, with twin rows facing each other. If the aisle is at the side, the car is usually divided in small compartments, each with two seat rows opposite to each other, with 6 or 8 seats. A railway coach usually has either air-conditioning or windows that can be opened. Toilet facilities are also usual, though the setup varies.
Other types of passenger coaches exist, especially for long journeys, such as the dining car, parlor car, and in some cases disco car. A sleeping car is a railway coach outfitted with small bedrooms that allow passengers to sleep through their night-time trips, while couchette cars provide more basic sleeping accommodation. Long-distance trains often require baggage coaches for the passengers' luggage. Historically in European practice it was common for day coaches to be formed of compartments seating 6 or 8 passengers, with access from a side corridor - corridor coaches fell into disfavor in the 1960s because open coaches are considered more secure by women traveling alone.
The term coach is also used to refer to a large motor vehicle for conveying passengers. It is similar to a bus but usually more comfortable and designed for longer-distance travel or touring. The main differences come from the facts that passengers of a motor coach are not considered potential vandals, and that a coach service is in competition with other means of long-distance travel. Fitments resemble those of an airliner, with storage bins for carry-on luggage and individual lighting which enables passengers to choose whether to read at night or to sleep. There is even luggage storage below the floor, accessible from outside panels, just as in an airliner.
Often, passenger coaches in a train are linked together with enclosed, flexible gangway connections that can be walked through by passengers and crew members. Some designs incorporate semi-permanent connections between cars and may have a full-width connection.
Coaches were designated by class, by corridor arrangement, and by lavatory provision. A composite railway coach was one with seating for both first and third class. Originally the classes of travel were the same. As the years went by, greater comforts were added. The third class and the guard and luggage were accommodated inside the coaches.
And now you know. So book your next cross-country trip on a train and leave the driving to someone else!