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Berlin Transport System Introduces Scentsational New Plan

Everything is coming up roses on Berlin's public transportation system thanks to a new fragrance to be specially created for the capital's commuter railway system.

A crowd of people getting into a train in Berlin

Sometimes, a splash of perfume is just the ticket

Compared to the London Tube or the New York subway, traveling in the hauptstadt is a painless experience: The ticket machines work, trains run regularly and you can usually get a seat.

But despite the money lavished on renovating the S-Bahn since Berlin reunified almost 20 years ago, it still has its own unmistakable smell: a heady blend of stale air, cheap pizza and wet clothes.

Passengers might, however, soon find this masked by a scent of eucalyptus with a touch of citrus, jasmine and underlying patchouli notes.

"We basically want to enhance the public transport experience in Berlin," S-Bahn spokesman Burkhard Ahlert told DW-WORLD.DE.

Strange smells

Pot pourri

Preferable to the stench of spilt beer any day

The idea was dreamt up by Gerson Myhr, who won a recent internal competition for new ideas to improve the capital's commuter railway system.

He proposed introducing a specially created fragrance as an antidote to unwanted odors.

"There are always strange smells in the trains," said the engineer."They are not pleasant."

The train company said the scheme won't be going ahead until after a trial run, initially trying out the customized scent in only 100 of the city's 620 commuter trains.

As for its actual ingredients -- the first aroma tests are planned for November.

"Obviously we'll be making sure it won't contain anything passengers might be allergic to," said Ahlert. "Initially we'd planned to do the aroma tests internally, but we've decided to get the public involved as soon as possible."

Paris precedent

The Paris transport system, the Metro, has had its own scent since 1999, when a scent based on lemons, oranges and lavender was introduced.

Some 1.5 tons of Madeleine, named after one of the stations and also a French pastry, are mixed into cleaning fluids and spread on station floors every month.

But what exactly is the point? While supermarkets have long been employing strategies such as an all-pervasive smell of freshly baked bread to make shoppers feel hungry and get spending, S-Bahn Berlin insists it has no such ulterior motives.

"It's just about boosting quality of life," said Ahlert.

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