THE FIRST FRUITS of German Railway’s programme to modernise its major stations were unveiled on July 23, when the premier DB Lounge was opened at Frankfurt-am-Main Hauptbahnhof. The main building has been extensively modified, with a glazed cupola flooding the public areas with natural light.

At ground level is a spacious new travel centre, with booking office and railway information desks supported by car hire, city information and tourist service desks. From the travel centre, transparent lifts and a glazed staircase lead up to the first floor, where a lounge complex has been created to replace the station’s traditional waiting rooms.

Entry to the lounge area is controlled by a welcome desk, which can also answer enquiries about station services and real-time train performance. A separate counter deals with left luggage and reservations for the suite’s range of private conference rooms. Access to the lounges themselves is restricted to passengers holding valid long-distance tickets, together with their guests. Holders of monthly or annual seasons or discount passes also have free access. Other station visitors can use the facilities, at a cost of DM10 for the second-class waiting room and DM15 for the first-class lounge.

Extensive use of glass and wood ensures a light and airy feel to the whole suite. Candelabra lighting and parquet flooring add to the luxury ambience, which also features comfortable seating, a bar and ornamental olive trees. Three quarters of the seating is reserved for non-smoking travellers, and separate waiting areas are provided for first and second class passengers. Both lounges provide a clear view over the concourse area to the platform tracks.

The first class lounge has 75 seats in an area of 290 m2, with the seats arranged in small groups (above). Arrival and departure information is given on display screens to reduce the noise level, so that businessmen can work productively while waiting for their trains. Five workstations are provided with plug-in connections for lap-top computers. A bar (below) provides a wide range of complimentary drinks, with hot and cold snack meals; at-seat service is also offered. A relaxation area has dimmed lighting and armchairs.

The second class waiting area has bistro stools and tables grouped around two big olive trees, with free newspapers available and monitors providing arrival and departure information. Passengers can obtain snacks and drinks from a large bar, and in one corner of the lounge is a children’s play area. Baby changing facilities are provided in the toilets.

Three conference rooms are provided: two for six people and one seating eight. All three have flip charts and overhead projectors, and the business complex has four separate telephone kiosks. The rooms can be pre-booked by telephone, or directly from the service counter.

The lounge complex is open from 06.00 to 22.30 each day. DB is planning to develop similar lounges at several of its other major stations. o