German trains to introduce ‘smooch cabins’ with frosted glass where passengers can ‘cuddle’

The new design also includes digital seat placeholders and scent buttons

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Friday 19 April 2024 10:49 BST
Passengers would be able to transform the glass from transparent to frosted at the push of a button
Passengers would be able to transform the glass from transparent to frosted at the push of a button (Alamy Stock Photo)

German train operator Deutsche Bahn has announced plans to introduce new cabins, where passengers can “cuddle” behind frosted glass.

The seating idea is proposed for Deutsche Bahn’s Intercity Express (ICE) high-speed trains and it was debuted in Berlin on Wednesday.

This two-person cabin, measuring 2m x 70 cm, would have glass that passengers could change from transparent to frosted by pushing a button in the armrest.

The design means those travelling in the compartments could switch “the train seat into a personal space with significantly more privacy”, Deutsche Bahn said.

While the private seating is also designed for taking video calls on the move, German newspaper Bild has described them as “smooch cabins” and created a poll for readers to choose a name, with “cuddle compartment” and “cuddle chamber” topping the list.

In an interview with Bild, Deutsche Bahn board member Michael Peterson said: “These enable private and confidential conversations in a protected environment.”

The cabins are currently being tested by different passenger types and Peterson highlighted: “Anyone who sits in the model of an ICE two-person compartment can already get a sense of what train travel could soon feel like.”

Additional design plans include the introduction of a digital screen for passengers who have not booked a seat reservation. This would enable them to mark their seat as occupied, should they leave it to visit a privacy cabin, toilet or restaurant. A fragrance button is also being proposed for doorways and station lifts, to offer passengers calming scent.

It has not been confirmed when the rail operator could implement these changes, which are part of a wider update currently planned for its services.

Deutsche Bahn, which is owned by the German government, found its network to be “old” and “prone to failure” in a 2023 report. And last year just 64 per cent of long-distance trains arrived on time, compared to 65.2 per cent in 2022. It has promised to deliver a “railway fit for the future” by 2030, using AI technology and track repair work between Frankfurt and Mannheim.

The German national rail operator’s train drivers have also recently reached a deal in their long-running dispute.

A spokesperson for Deutsche Bahn told The Independent: “The idea of such compartments is not designed for any specific target group. Of course, the need for confidential conversations and particularly shielded travel is even more pronounced among business travellers, but private travellers and travellers with children also show this need. This is why we always include a representative cross-section of society in our market research in order to obtain the broadest possible feedback and develop our concepts in the best possible way.”

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