They are the part of the backbone of the Swiss train network – the 341 IC2000 double-decker carriages that roll their way across Switzerland everyday linking cities from Geneva to St Gallen and taking in other destinations including Brig, Chur and Basel.
Now, after 20 years of service, the slightly faded carriages are undergoing a 300 million-franc (€264 million) revamp which involves 40 kilometres of carpet, 120 tonnes of paint and enough heavy-duty upholstery for 32,000 or so seats.
Another view of one of the new second class carriages. Photo: SBB
On Thursday, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) unveiled its first prototypes of the shiny new carriages.
They feature energy-saving LED lighting and are brighter than they used to be, the SBB said in a statement.
One of the new first-class carriages. Photo: SBB
Other highlights include cutting-edge new windows that are designed to help boost on-board mobile phone reception (including 5G), compartment tables with built-in power plugs and wireless phone charging in the business zones of those trains which have them (check for 'BZ' on timetables).
The new compartment tables feature in-built power plugs. Photo: SBB
It’s not all about technology either. Toilets in the famous 'Ticki Park' family carriages – which come replete with playgrounds and all – will now have changing tables.
Meanwhile, the total number of places for bicycles across the IC2000 fleet will increase from 200 to 360, and IC restaurants are set for an overhaul.
This is how the new-look carriages appear from the outside. Photo: SBB
Not everyone is happy with the changes though. One reader of the Swiss news site 20 Minuten complained about the lack of additional space for luggage on the new carriages.
But an SBB spokesperson responded that while the company had looked at various options, increasing luggage space could only have been achieved by reducing overall seating.
“We didn’t want that,” said the spokesperson.
The first of the new carriages are expected to hit the tracks of Switzerland this autumn.
An alternative view of one of the new first class carriages. Photo: SBB