ICE: This is what the new trains look like – ‘This wasn’t the case before’

Deutsche Bahn

New design: This is what ICE looks like in the future

Updated: 05/19/2022, 14:25

| Reading time: 6 minutes

Deutsche Bahn has introduced a new interior design for its ICE. Seats, lighting and the on-board restaurant have been changed.

Berlin. After the sharp drop in passenger numbers since the start of the Corona pandemic, Deutsche Bahn is currently starting to rise again. “In private passenger traffic, we’ve had more passengers on trains every day since Easter than before the Corona period,” said Michael Peterson, director of long-distance transportation.

There are currently double-digit growth rates for business travelers. And in order to win more passengers in the future, ICE must convince with a new interior design in the future. These include changed seating and warmer lighting or an onboard restaurant with bar area.

In late 2019, Peterson reported when the ICE model was launched on Wednesday, the team had begun work on the design. The head of long-distance transportation said that with the aim of the long service life of the train, the design has been thought out for decades. So the design should not only be modern, but also timeless. “The train will accompany a generation, and we want people to still feel comfortable on this ice in 30 years,” Peterson says. So the longevity of the material is also critical.

ICE: Continuous backrest as privacy screen

Among the materials, the seat fabrics have been changed, for example, which is supposed to provide more comfort thanks to the high percentage of wool. And in general, there are several changes to the seats, which – according to Bahn president Richard Lutz – were designed as “retreats”.

There is no longer a gap between the double seats, but instead a continuous rear wall. So if you’re working on your laptop or typing on your cell phone, you don’t have to worry about passengers looking at the screen from the row of seats behind you. And people who prefer to work on a tablet will in the future find a special stand above the folding table.

In the future, passengers will also have more adjustment options for their second-class seats, one for seat depth and one for backrest inclination. The position of the headrest is also adjusted when the seat is adjusted. “This has never been the case before,” Peterson said. The seat structure, the long-distance transport chief explained, will not change.

This means that regardless of seat position, there are no restrictions on the passenger seated behind. In addition, in the future there will also be a socket per seat in the second class, and previously there was one socket per double seat. Overall, Peterson reports that about 900 test subjects accompanied the development of the benches.

Feel like you are in your own living room

The first class is expected to provide more comfort. The width of the seats there is about four centimeters, there are more storage areas and, for example, an additional cup holder. The upholstery is also a little different. In general, the interior design uses wood as a material, for example on the side walls or the backs of the benches, which is intended to create a homely atmosphere.

This is also the claim made by Deutsche Bahn for its new ICE design: occupants should feel right in their own living room. Modified light should also contribute to this. “There is a new sense of space with the overhead lighting, and we have warmer colors that make the cabin feel larger,” Peterson said.

New design for ICE: red on board restaurant with bar area

There are also alterations to the onboard restaurant. While the seats are dark blue in second class and gray in first class, the on-board restaurant uses the word “burgundy,” meaning red wine based on staff clothing. Also striking is the new bar area with seating, where passengers can look out the window not only from the side – like regular seats – but straight ahead.

Travelers will be able to experience the new design from December 2023 in the ICE 3 neo and from 2024 also in the ICE L, which is being built by the Spanish company Talgo. That being said, these trains should also run on the route between Berlin and Amsterdam, where the old IC trains still run.

Peterson announced that the first vehicles with the new design will be shown to the public early next fall. On the other hand, the current fleet will not be diverted for the time being. Peterson called this a “conscious decision” and also referred to the aspect of sustainability. ICE 4 will also retain its previous design, at least until it is “revamped”. This is usually after 15 years.

Deutsche Bahn wants to improve the seat reservation system

In addition to the new design, the railways also announced that it will develop an improved seat reservation system. “This will allow us to better place people in different areas based on their needs,” Peterson said. This includes, for example, the quiet, family and leisure areas, which will also continue to exist on the new trains. However, the new design should make it possible to use the zones more flexibly, at the request of the traveler.

Deutsche Bahn also plans to increase ICE’s fleet in the coming years, from 360 to 450 trains by the end of the decade. This is also due to the fact that the number of passengers in long-distance traffic is expected to double by 2030. “The growth targets are achievable,” Bahn President Lutz said. The decisive factor will not be the trains or the personnel, but the infrastructure.

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