Two-person compartments are common on both first and second class ICE trains. However, Deutsche Bahn (DB) now offers a novelty: complete cabins designed exclusively for two travelers. These were recently presented in Berlin. The compartments are equipped with a sliding frosted glass door that provides privacy and protection from prying eyes.

Its goal is to offer private and business travelers a quiet space for phone calls or video conferences. Guests do not sit next to each other, but opposite each other. This means that colleagues can sit in the cabin at the same time. According to the railroad, two-person compartments are being tested with different groups of people. Whether and how the compartments will be introduced will be decided later, a spokesperson said. “Anyone who sits in the ICE double cab model can already imagine what train travel will soon be like,” says Dr. Michael Peterson, DB board member for long-distance passenger transport.

It is not the only innovation planned for the railway.

The digital towel for seat reservation arrives

Travelers who book a saver or flexible ticket on the train and do not reserve a seat often have to look for the next best available seat. If this seat is reserved by another passenger during the trip, you will have to vacate it again. However, starting in the summer of 2024, the railway will introduce an innovation: a kind of digital towel.

Using the already introduced convenient check-in via the app, unreserved travelers have the opportunity to secure a free seat and travel without hassle. The seat display then shows which station the seat is occupied.

Travel offices at train stations get a new look

DB Long-Distance Transport plans to invest a total of 60 million euros in the next five years in the modernization of the travel centers of the 25 most frequented long-distance train stations in Germany. Eight of these centers are currently undergoing renovation. The new DB Travel Center in Nuremberg will open its doors this summer. Further openings are planned for late 2024 and early 2025. The first step was the Travel Center at Düsseldorf Central Station, which opened in July 2023.

The new travel centers bring improvements for rail travelers: the reception area has been expanded. This means staff can process simple requests more quickly. A new calling system offers a wait time forecast and the option to have the hold number sent to your mobile phone. Accessibility has also been improved through modifications such as drop-down switches for wheelchair users, induction loops for hearing aid users, and tactile floor guidance systems.

The train app should also show buses and rental cars.

Especially in rural areas, it can be difficult to keep track of available transportation options and know when they work. This is usually because the supply is smaller than in urban regions and information on the different means of transport is not centrally available.

For this reason, the railway is expanding its own DB Navigator app and, from 2024, will also display other offers such as buses, bike rentals and car-sharing offers in a grouped and clear manner. Customers should be able to book transportation directly through the app.

Night trains are expanded

There are also improvements to night trains. From the end of 2023, DB and ÖBB offer Nightjet connections from Berlin and Vienna to Paris and Brussels. Starting in the fall of 2024, these connections will increase from three times a week to daily. According to Sabine Stock, ÖBB board member responsible for passenger transport, night trains are very popular: “The current problem is capacity. We are currently full.” Many trains are completely full after the first day of reservation. But the goal is clear: “We want to double the number of passengers in Nightjet traffic by 2030.”

Prices could rise from December 2024

It is not yet clear whether Deutsche Bahn will increase the price of its tickets. However, there are several indicators in this regard. German rail network usage fees, also known as route prices, are expected to rise significantly next year.

The journey prices are fees that the DB company InfraGo charges to all users of the railway infrastructure, including its own transport companies. They are calculated per kilometer of route and are used to finance operating costs, maintenance and investments in the German railway network, which is more than 33,000 kilometers long. This additional burden on companies could affect both freight and passenger transport.

After all, InfraGo also uses the additional revenue to drive the modernization of train stations in order to upgrade all planned stations as part of a general renovation until 2030 and turn them into sustainable train stations with higher quality and ability.

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