GERMAN Rail (DB) has unveiled the new interior design for its ICE high-speed fleet, which will first be introduced on the ICE 3neo trains from the end of 2023.

DB says the interior has been developed with new practical details for each seat including an integrated tablet holder, additional storage areas and clothes hooks on the seatback, which allow passengers to keep personal items in view in a cosy and tidy environment.

“We focused on people and their needs on the journey,” says head of customer experience and product management at DB Fernverkehr, Dr Joachim Schneider. “We were guided by the idea of feeling as if you were in your own living room when travelling at 300km/h with DB. That’s why we placed a lot of emphasis on privacy, the design of personal space and a completely new colour and material concept.”

To provide a homely feel, DB has increased the use of wood and selected warm, natural colours, modern fabrics and high-quality materials. Around 200 fabrics from seven suppliers were tested through an 11-month development process. The seat covers were put through numerous tests by an external testing institute, including being soiled with coffee, chocolate, hand cream and felt-tip pens to test whether and how well the stains could be removed. As ICE seats are used by an average of four passengers a day, special equipment was also used to simulate the level of wear experienced over the course of a year.

Different colours have been selected throughout the train. First class features warm grey tones similar to those used in the DB’s passenger lounges, while second class has subtle blue tones. The burgundy used in the catering areas matches the colour of DB’s new corporate clothing.

The seat covers in both first and second class are made of high-quality flat woven fabric with 85% wool content and a high tactile quality. The use of leather has been more than halved.

“Our conviction is that the train must fit the person and not the other way round,” says the head of DB’s design team, Mr Bruno Scheffler. “In addition to the big picture, we have always kept an eye on attention to detail.”

The comfort level of the seats has been improved through a multi-stage process, during which DB worked with industry partners, ergonomics experts and design agencies to test various prototypes, while the seats were tested by up to 900 people.

The next generation of seats features a new mechanism that allows the backrest and headrest to move backwards to make it more comfortable to sleep or rest. While the second-class seats are designed with a bench feel, each seat can be individually adjusted. The first-class seats feature wider seat, back and head cushions, giving passengers more comfort and options for different seating positions.

DB began the process to redesign ICE interiors in 2019, supported by experts from the Nose design agency in Zürich. DB ordered an additional 43 ICE 3neo high-speed trains from Siemens for €1.5bn in February, after signing a €1bn deal for 30 in July 2020 which included options for up to 60 additional trains.

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