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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

March 21, 2011

"The order of train cars is reversed"

Filed under Life in Europe

That announcement usually prompts a quick shuffle on the platform as an ICE train approaches the station!

Riding an ICE (for "InterCity Express", not some refrigerated freight train!) in Germany is a pleasant experience. Riding on rail beds specially built for high speed trains (300 kmh), with air-conditioned cars (well, most of the time it works) and even high-speed internet on some of the trains makes rail travel much easier than fighting traffic on the Autobahn. However, for some reason the Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) is sometimes unable to get the passenger cars lined up in the sequence listed on the notice board at the stations where the ICE stops. When you have a reserved seat, knowing where your car is going to stop at the station is helpful, expediting the boarding process. However, in the last couple of years I regularly encounter a situation where an announcement is made shortly before the train arrives: "The order of train cars is reversed. We regret this inconvenience." That often means that on the platform, usually 100 meters long or so, passengers quickly reverse positions so they can line up where "their" car with their seat reservation will stop at the station. Since the car numbering and the reserved seat assignments are done electronically, I have wondered why it isn’t possible to correct this with some quick work at the keyboard. At any rate, it provides a final measure of exercise prior to boarding the train for what in my case is often a 4-5 hour trip!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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