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Focussing on customer service

Posted: 2 March 2005 | | No comments yet

High standards are demanded of a railway station as every journey by train starts and ends here. Stations not only link railway lines with each other, but also link railway lines with other transport modes such as bus, tram, car, bicycle and aeroplane. Travellers and visitors to larger stations in particular, have access not only to a wide range of services on all aspects of travel, but also to shopping amenities and other service enterprises, even in the evenings and at weekends.

High standards are demanded of a railway station as every journey by train starts and ends here. Stations not only link railway lines with each other, but also link railway lines with other transport modes such as bus, tram, car, bicycle and aeroplane. Travellers and visitors to larger stations in particular, have access not only to a wide range of services on all aspects of travel, but also to shopping amenities and other service enterprises, even in the evenings and at weekends.

High standards are demanded of a railway station as every journey by train starts and ends here. Stations not only link railway lines with each other, but also link railway lines with other transport modes such as bus, tram, car, bicycle and aeroplane. Travellers and visitors to larger stations in particular, have access not only to a wide range of services on all aspects of travel, but also to shopping amenities and other service enterprises, even in the evenings and at weekends.

We are systematically expanding the function of our more than 5,400 railway stations as both traffic stations and service centres. Last year, we again successfully completed the construction and modernisation of major stations such as Regensburg, Wiesbaden, Wittenberge and Siegburg/Bonn. The new railway station at Cologne/Bonn Airport was also opened, making this the ninth airport in Germany to have a direct link to the Deutsche Bahn rail network. It is not possible elsewhere to change between rail, air and car transport by such short, direct routes.

Developing our stations hand in hand with the public sector

We want our customers to be able to rely on a similarly high standard of technology and comfort at all stations. However, Deutsche Bahn cannot achieve that target on its own, as modernising the passenger buildings is an ambitious and expensive undertaking. On average, these buildings are more than 85 years old, frequently far too big and some 500 of them are listed buildings. Generally located in the historic city centre, railway stations are the flagship of the city or town and a prominent feature of the townscape. Ensuring that the station is an attractive sight is therefore in the interests of both Deutsche Bahn and the local authorities.

Our efforts to cooperate with the public sector have already proved successful, not least in questions of financing. After the launch of our station development scheme in 2003, both sides pushed ahead with modernising and upgrading the railway stations and together have succeeded in vastly improving the state of many stations. At many locations, however, especially where small and medium-sized stations are concerned, there is still much to be done. It is important to use the increasingly scant resources of both Deutsche Bahn and the public purse in the most effective possible way, as one thing is clear to us in our capacity as a business enterprise: we can only invest in projects which offer the potential for us to recoup the funds that are spent.

We invite representatives of the Federal, Land, city and municipal authorities to attend station conferences in order to involve them directly in the debate on station developments with future potential, to investigate the relevant options for project funding, and come up with workable solutions by mutual agreement. Our target for the future is to apply a standardised policy for upgrading all of our 5,400 (approx.) stations wherever possible.

Customer service takes priority

The stations have to cope with, and indeed depend on, roughly four billion travellers and visitors per annum. We are there to assist and support both these groups and, when planning station developments, focus on service and quality. It is in these sectors in particular that we still see room for improvement. We wish to gear the stations even more closely to our customers’ requirements and make the benefits for our customers more obvious than in the past. Only on the basis of a high degree of customer satisfaction will we be able to achieve our corporate goals.

From the customer’s point of view, service, safety and station cleanliness are decisive criteria for making a visit to the station a pleasant experience. In the interests of optimising our range of services, we have asked our personnel to come up with ideas for improving service. The best suggestions put forward have been included in a new service concept for the stations which was launched at the start of 2005 and which is to be substantially extended. Amongst other things, we plan to increase the range of services available at the ServicePoints in order to raise customer satisfaction. We also intend to systematically promote the commitment of our service staff and offer due incentives for successful contributions.

We have also increased our activities with regard to safety. For instance, in cooperation with the Federal Border Police and Weisser Ring, an organisation which helps crime victims, we have launched a campaign ‘Put a stop to theft’ at stations throughout Germany. This calls upon passengers to pay more attention to their own luggage and thus protect themselves against pickpockets.

The ‘Non-Smoking Stations’ project is aimed at improving the appearance of our railway stations. In 2004, we made considerable progress with that project, increasing the number of non-smoking stations from around 60 at the start of the year to almost 1,000 by the end of 2004. The non-smoking stations have met with a good response from our customers, whether smokers or non-smokers. A positive side effect is that there has been a clear improvement in station cleanliness. We are therefore constantly expanding this programme. At non-smoking stations, smoking is permitted only in specially designated smoking areas, in the catering outlets and the DB Lounges.

In 2004, we introduced Local Supervisors on the station platforms in order to improve punctuality. These employees dispatch the trains, provide passenger information directly on the platform and thus ensure punctual departures and better platform service at 14 larger stations.

Following the introduction of DB ServiceStores, Deutsche Bahn is now better represented in rural areas, offering its customers a new quality of service in small and medium-sized stations at more than 100 locations. Travellers and visitors can purchase not only train tickets, but also buy bakery products, snacks, beverages and magazines, outside ordinary shop opening hours. In addition to consulting and sales, these franchisees also assume responsibility for service, safety and station cleanliness.

Stations are first-class shopping centres and event locations

Apart from service relating to all aspects of travel, the range of amenities offered at our stations plays a crucial role.
In view of the high number of visitors per day and the longer opening hours, railway stations are top locations for commercial tenants. We have devised new concepts for leasing the 1.5 million square metres of commercial premises in the stations. Glass pavilions and standardised shop systems create additional top-quality retail areas and are already in use at numerous locations. We are constantly endeavouring to optimise the merchandise and service mix for our customers.

Extraordinary events last year included the World Press Photo Exhibition, when the world’s best press photos were displayed in eight large stations, and the Sesame Street Tour featuring the stars from the popular children’s TV show. Such exhibitions and events draw large numbers of people and make stations attractive venues.

Prospects

In the future, we intend to offer our travellers and visitors modern stations with services that are tailored to match customer demand. One of the most important projects is the new central station ‘Berlin Hauptbahnhof-Lehrter Bahnhof’, which will serve simultaneously as a traffic node and an urban attraction for the German capital.

Europe’s new traffic hub: Berlin Hauptbahnhof-Lehrter Bahnhof

The new centre of Berlin – in the immediate vicinity of the Federal Chancellery, Reichstag building and Brandenburg Gate – is the site of Berlin’s new central railway station, Berlin Hauptbahnhof-Lehrter Bahnhof. As from May 2006, in good time for the 2006 World Cup, it will not only serve as the central railway station for Berlin, but will also be the largest crossing station in Europe. An inauguration commission, comprising representatives of Deutsche Bahn, transport companies and service enterprises, has been set up to prepare the operating concept. The plans also envisage that the pilot phase will not only test traffic movements through the station, but will also ensure that all sectors of the station function properly. This will enable us to optimise the product range for our customers even further.

New traffic concept sets new standards

Berlin is increasingly evolving into an international metropolis and a link between the various economic regions throughout Europe. The high traffic volume calls for a new railway concept in Berlin, as World War II and the subsequent division of Germany destroyed most of Berlin’s once close-knit railway infrastructure, which was exemplary for the whole of Europe. Immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, work began on the reconstruction of new infrastructure for the whole of Berlin. The new Berlin Hauptbahnhof-Lehrter Bahnhof will play a central role for both long-distance and regional traffic, as it is located at the intersection of all the railway lines running into Berlin.

The station will be a central interchange point, offering connections to the regional railway and rapid transit network, to buses and later also to tram and underground lines. It is part of a new pioneering traffic concept for the German capital. In addition to the existing east-west connections (‘Stadtbahn’), a north-south line will run through the centre of the city in future. This will reduce the journey time to many destinations in Germany and abroad and also provide better long-distance rail connections throughout the Greater Berlin area.

Apart from the new central station in Berlin, Gesundbrunnen, Potsdamer Platz and Papestrasse stations will also play an important part in the new overall traffic concept for the city.

In the future, Berlin Gesundbrunnen station will provide optimum long-distance and regional rail connections for the north of the city. This will be the stop for northbound trains, heading for example to Stettin, Stralsund and Rostock. Berlin Gesundbrunnen station is also ideally integrated in the inner-city rapid transit and underground networks and the bus services.

Papestrasse will be the primary station in the south of Berlin. This is where the Anhalter Bahn from Leipzig and the Dresdener Bahn arrive in the city to merge with the new north-south lines heading for Berlin-Hauptbahnhof-Lehrter Bahnhof. Papestrasse is already an important crossing station for the rapid transit lines.

As from 2006, Potsdamer Platz will be the station for the fast regional lines which serve the office and business district around Leipziger and Potsdamer Platz, as well as the cultural area around Berlin’s Philharmonie concert hall, museums and the state library. This station also provides quick and convenient interchange to rapid transit, underground and buses.

The new Berlin Hauptbahnhof-Lehrter Bahnhof station alone will have to cope with an enormous traffic volume, with trains departing in all directions at 90 second intervals. Every day, some 300 long-distance and regional trains will arrive at the station on the north-south line. A further 260 long-distance and regional trains are expected daily on the ‘Stadtbahn’ lines, plus up to 800 rapid transit trains. A figure of 300,000 travellers and visitors a day has been forecast for Berlin Hauptbahnhof-Lehrter Bahnhof.

Transparent and functional architecture are symbolic of the new Berlin

As the most important new station building project in Europe, Berlin Hauptbahnhof-Lehrter Bahnhof combines all the elements of a modern mobile society in one single, piece of arresting architecture. It offers passengers, visitors to Berlin and Berliners a new symbiosis of travel, discovery, encounter, work and living. The station’s design ensures that it will be a distinctive landmark in the new Berlin.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof-Lehrter Bahnhof was designed by Hamburg architects Gerkan, Marg&Partner. The station architecture focusses on short connecting routes. Daylight on an area of 430 by 430 metres and throughout all five storeys creates a transparent and friendly atmosphere. On the top storey, 10 metres above street level, there are six tracks for east and westbound trains (long-distance, local and rapid transit), while on the bottom storey, 15 metres under ground, the regional and long-distance connections heading north and south run on eight tracks. On the three storeys in between, there will be a Travel Centre, ServicePoint, shopping amenities and service sectors. Escalators, staircases and lifts will link all storeys and make this new central station not only a vibrant mobility centre but also a major tourist attraction.

The new Berlin Hauptbahnhof-Lehrter Bahnhof has the largest station roof anywhere in Germany. A flat, elliptic structure spans the six tracks and three platforms for the Stadtbahn on a length of 320 metres running from east to west, is between 46 and 68 metres wide and around 16 metres high. To ensure that the roof can stand up to the elements, despite its flat arch design, cables are spanned above and below the steel trusses, the ‘ribs’ of the roof. No two glass elements in the roof are alike. In the centre, the 180 metre long and 50 metre wide north-south roof crosses the east-west roof at an oblique angle, creating a flat dome at the point where these two roofs intersect. The filigree supporting structures are made of steel profiles which are just a few centimetres thick. Steel cables with a diameter of up to 58 millimetres provide the necessary additional stability. This fragile looking structure bears an extremely high load. Double glazing, covering an area of around 30,000 square metres, has been given a special coating which protects passengers not only from rain, but also from heat. The huge roof area is to be cleaned by specially designed robots.

On the east-west roof, there is a photovoltaic system to generate solar energy. 780 photovoltaic modules with a total of 78,000 cells have been installed on an area of approximately 1870 square metres. The entire system will generate approximately 160,000 kWh electricity per annum, which will be fed into the power grid.

Shopping, catering and services

Part of the station has also been designed to house an attractive shopping centre. The galleries on the three storeys will offer customers a comprehensive selection of high-class catering and shopping, communications and service facilities. On an area of 15,000 square metres, an excellent and well-balanced merchandise mix will be available, making the station a magnet for shopping or simply strolling around.

Daylight on all levels creates a transparent and friendly atmosphere, where visitors can feel at ease and which makes travelling and shopping a particularly enjoyable experience. From a newspaper, to food and drink, right through to extraordinary accessories, customers will find everything they could possibly want under this roof. Thanks to longer shop opening hours and Sunday opening, customers at the new station will still be able to buy whatever they need long after all the other shops in Berlin have closed their doors. Leasing the commercial premises at the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof-Lehrter Bahnhof to the high number of would-be tenants began in 2004, and demand for this outstanding retail location is overwhelming.

Preparations in the fields of technology, service and trade are progressing at full speed. We are confident that as from May 2006, both passengers and visitors will appreciate this new highlight of the stations in Berlin, Germany and throughout the whole of Europe.

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