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ICE 3 Oberhaider-Wald-Tunnel.jpg
ICE 3 near the Oberhaider Wald Tunnel
In service 2000 -
Manufacturer Siemens
Family name Velaro
Number built 50 trainsets (ICE 3)
17 trainsets (ICE 3M/F)
Formation 8 passenger cars per halftrain, optional double traction giving 16 passenger cars
Capacity 441 (ICE 3)
430 (ICE 3M)
Operator Deutsche Bahn
Nederlandse Spoorwegen
Maximum speed 320 km/h (service)
Weight 409 t (ICE 3)
435 t (ICE 3M)
Electric system(s) 15 kV AC
1.5 kV DC (ICE 3M)
3 kV DC (ICE 3M)
25 kV AC (ICE 3M/F)
Safety system(s) Sifa, PZB90, LZB (ICE 3)
Sifa, PZB90, LZB80, Crocodile, TVM430, KVB, ATB, Eurobalise (ICE 3M)
Gauge Standard gauge - 4 ft 8.5 in (1.435 m)

This article is about the train. For the Bridgman form of water ice, see Ice III.

ICE 3 is a family of high-speed EMUs of Deutsche Bahn. It includes classes 403 and 406, which are known as ICE 3 and ICE 3M respectively. Four multisystem trains, known as ICE International, are owned by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways).

Loosely based on the ICE 3, Siemens developed its Siemens Velaro after the completion of the ICE 3 project.



The design goal of the ICE 3 (Class 403) was to create a higher-powered, lighter train than its predecessors. This was achieved by distributing its 16 traction motors underneath the whole train. The train is licensed for 330 km/h (205 mph) and has reached 368 km/h (228.68 mph) on trial runs. On regular InterCityExpress services they run at up to 300 km/h (187 mph), the maximum design speed of German high-speed lines. On the French LGV Est however, some trains reach a regular top speed of 320 km/h (199 mph).

Because the train does not have powerheads, the whole length of the train is available for passenger seats, including the first car. The so-called lounge-seats are located directly behind the driver, separated only by a glass wall.


The ICE 3M (Class 406; M for multisystem) was developed to operate services Europe wide under the four different Railway electrification systems in use on Europe's main lines and with support for various train security systems. The Deutsche Bahn (DB) ordered 13 of those units in 1994, the NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) four, making sure that the demands of the Netherland rail network are taken care of. Though these trains carry NS logos, the DB and NS trains together form a pool, and therefore the NS trains may operate DB services also. As of 2007, the train is licensed for operation in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Currently those trains are used for cross-border runs between Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France.

In Belgium, the train was licenced in 2002 to run on the classic 3 kV DC lines with speeds up to 160 km/h, and from December 2004 on also on the new high speed lines, but initially limited to 250 km/h instead of 300 km/h[1]. Problems with flying gravel and its frictionless linear eddy current brake came up during testing. In order to limit the creation of tornado-like vorticles that pick up gravel, and to limit damage from flying gravel to the train, spoilers have been added under the car joints, under the carbody next to the bogies, and under the powered axles on the bogies.

Additional spoiler (marked red) to limit the creation of vorticles that pick up gravel and to protect the bogie and the underframe

The linear eddy current brake, which is required for higher speeds, cannot yet be used, because it would rip off the magnetic covers of some trackside equipment; those covers will have to be replaced by non-magnetic ones according to the EU Technical Specifications for Interoperability for international rail traffic in Europe.

As in Belgium, licensing procedures for France took five years to be completed. Trial runs were completed in late 2005, and the same two problems were encountered as in Belgium: loose gravel damage, and possible side-effects of the brakes. However, ICE 3Ms were allowed on the LGV Est, and started service there on 20 June 2007, mixed with TGVs. Since December 2007, DB operates ICE 3M trains from Frankfurt Hbf to Paris Est, initially with 5 daily runs between both cities. The trains for running into France (called ICE-3 MF, indicating multisystem France) were modified at Bombardier's Henningsdorf plant and were extensively tested on Siemens' test site in Wegberg-Wildenrath before the modified trains re-entered commercial service.

In Switzerland, licencing took only six months[1]. In 2006 the train lost its Swiss licence however when the ZUB and Integra safety systems were removed, which interfered with the French safety systems TVM430 and KVB. This is not a real problem anyway as the trains never ran in Switzerland, with the exception of the Amsterdam-Basel services.


  1. ^ a b Harmonisierungsdefizite am Beispiel von Auslandszulassungen des Triebzuges ICE 3, in "Elektrische Bahnen", Vo. 103 (2005), pages 147-149

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