How to…

Upgrade rail

September 19, 2018

Germany’s national rail operator DB is half way through an upgrade of its iconic ICE 3 trains designed to take onboard hospitality to a whole new level. Roger Williams discovers how

Know what’s needed
DB is targeting its spending on the areas research showed passengers most wanted – luggage storage, seating quality, reservations signage, seat numbering, sit down dining, disabled accessibility, lighting and family areas.

Seat them comfortably
Coach seating layouts are being harmonised to simplify reservations and there will be over 1280 extra First seats. Modern seating fabrics replace old styles; whilst slide-forward seatbacks will replace simple recline positioning, to avoid annoying the passenger behind. Grab handles on aisle seats, and high contrast numbering on headrests aim to reduce stress for customers boarding. A second wheelchair space has been added, both with height-adjustable tables, and visually-impaired customers are guided by ergonomic touch points.

Aim high with catering
Amazingly, and in a move that bucks a trend, the redesign also provides a stylish new 20-seat dining car. In the past, these trains simply had an onboard bistro but now the galley, counter and standing area have all been revamped and appliances replaced.

Make it easy
Luggage carriers and push-chair users will find more space, with additional luggage racks positioned in the middle of the open saloons, giving improved floor level storage and making it easier for customers to access and keep an eye on their cases.

Tech talks
All First Class seats will have individual, rather than shared, power sockets and all halogen lighting is being replaced with low energy LEDs. A network of 2542 larger and more easily readable portrait display screens will show live journey times and connections. A new LAN network provides higher bandwidth in conjunction with the latest wifi technology.

Think green
The redesign also makes environmental sense, with most components and materials, such as the wall panelling, being reconditioned and reused, saving around 80% of material costs compared with a new train and dramatically helping towards DB’s overall recycling target of 97.5%.

The DB upgrade has started with the refurbishment of 66 eight-coach trains, overseen by project manager Jan Poppendieck, who previously managed the ICE 2 upgrade

The €210 million investment is on scheduled to be completed on time by 2020

Some 35,000 square metres of new carpet will be laid throughout the trains

Re-using materials has cut the upgrade costs by 80%