Deutsche Bahn (DB) is once again facing a turning point. She actually always does that. Climate change, traffic turnaround, punctuality turnaround, turnaround in the train drivers’ strike. This company turns around so often, the ladies and gentlemen on the board must be dizzy. This Wednesday, the DB presented the next step in the revolution at its “Experience Mobility” trade fair: the return of train compartments. In fact, it would be nothing less than a real turnaround.

Over the past two decades, the semi-public company had tended to tear down the walls in its wagons. Cozy six-passenger compartments became open-plan cars. From then on, the train ticket included: the quarterly report negotiated over the phone by the manager in the next seat, the failed parenting methods of the mother at the front of the table for four, the smelly egg salad from the passenger in seat 35 three rows further back. Privacy is a thing of the past for passengers. The railway, on the other hand, accommodated more seats in its trains and was able to clean the carriages more easily.

While the original ICE from the 1990s still has almost a third of compartment space, the rest areas in the current, fourth generation of express trains are only available to families and small children. But the needs of rail customers have changed. If traveling on rails is really to replace traveling on the A4, then train travel must become more individual, flexible and comfortable.

This is one of the reasons why night trains have been celebrating a rebirth in recent years. The DB had unwisely mothballed or sold all of its sleeping cars. Thanks to a European night train alliance, it is currently expanding its network. Brussels, Warsaw, Croatian Adriatic. Everything can be reached by train again, just like before. There are now around 90 night train connections in Europe, and the number is rising.

The Austrian Federal Railway ÖBB now even offers mini cabins in sleeping cars throughout Germany. A reporter from “Zeit” concluded after a test drive from Hanover to Munich: “Oppressive. Oppressive. Like in a lying closet.”

The new ICE compartments should be more comfortable. Less doctor’s office white plastic, more mocha brown wood paneling. Two meters wide, 70 centimeters deep, and everything is very private: two passengers sit opposite each other with their own folding tables. If necessary, the sliding door offers privacy protection in a frosted glass look at the push of a button. Private conversations, web conferences, a break, time for two – all of this should be possible in the future in the train’s new duo compartments.

Michael Peterson, DB board member for long-distance passenger transport, said: “Anyone who sits in the model of the ICE two-person compartment can already imagine what traveling by train will soon feel like.” The last word is important. Can. Because nothing has to. A railway spokesman immediately straightened this out: The company has not yet decided whether and in what way the rest compartments will be introduced. There is also no price yet. In the coming weeks and months, hundreds of customers will be asked about the visionary compartment concept.

So maybe in the end there will be a turning point after all. The passengers then become dizzy. Because instead of being undisturbed and maximally relaxed in a two-person compartment, they would continue to sit in the crowded open-plan carriage, surrounded by children’s blaring, managers’ orders and smacking noises.