thePHP.cc’s QA expert discusses Germany’s Intercity Express

When It Gets Hot
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When problems arise on the ICE, it really isn’t pretty, and in the world of software engineering, reliability is also essential. When it falters developers have an issue on their hands….

The first thing I heard after boarding an Intercity Express (ICE) train in Germany recently was this announcement: „Due to technical problems, this train has only half the number of coaches today.“ Of course, my seat reservation was for one of the coaches that were not there. „No problem“ I thought, „I am fine standing for about 30 minutes“. But then a second announcement was made: „Due to technical problems, the air conditioning system only works in half of the coaches today“. This would not be a problem if the windows in an ICE could be opened. But since it is a bad idea to have open windows when the train travels at 300 km/h, opening the windows on ICE trains is not possible. When the A/C is not working, the temperature on board an ICE train can easily rise to 50°C or more in the summer. Trust me; this is not a fun place to be.

While I happened to be standing in one of the coaches that had a functioning air conditioning system, this situation made me angry. Why? Because I know that this is a systemic problem; the air conditioning system is only designed to work for outside temperatures up to 32°C. And guess what happens when the passengers migrate from a coach without A/C into a coach with A/C? Simple, another air conditioning system shuts off because it cannot handle the situation. If you ask me, the design (maybe the implementation as well, but I am not an engineer) of the Intercity Express‘ air conditioning system is not up to the standard of reliability, quality and aspiration of perfection that is expected of a product that is „made in Germany“.

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