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ICE 3 trainset near Ingolstadt

The Intercity-Express — in Austria, Denmark and Switzerland: InterCityExpress (formerly also syntax in Germany); abbreviation: ICE (German pronunciation: [iːtseːˈʔeː]) — is a system of high-speed trains predominantly running in Germany and neighbouring countries. It is the highest service category offered by DB Fernverkehr and is the flagship of Deutsche Bahn. The brand name "ICE" is among the best of Germany, with a brand awareness close to 100%, according to DB.[1]

There are currently 259 trainsets in five different versions of the ICE vehicles in use, named ICE 1 (deployed in 1991), ICE 2 (1996), ICE T (1999), ICE 3 (1999) and ICE TD (2001-2003, back in service 2007). The ICE 3, including its variant models, is made by a consortium led by Bombardier and Siemens.

Apart from domestic use, the trains can also be seen in countries neighbouring Germany. There are, for example, ICE 1 lines to Basel and Zürich, Switzerland. ICE 3 trains also run to Liège and Brussels, Belgium[2] and at lower speeds to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.[3] On June 10, 2007, a new line between Paris and Frankfurt/Stuttgart was opened, jointly operated by ICE and TGV trains.

While ICE 3M run the Paris-to-Frankfurt branch (with exceptions to trains 9553/9552, which operates with TGV POS equipment and cross-crewed with both SNCF and DB staff), SNCF's TGV runs from Paris to Munich (via Stuttgart), with mixed crews on both trains. [4][5]

German and Austrian ICE T trains run to Vienna, Austria. On December 9, 2007 the ICE TD was introduced on the service from Berlin via Hamburg to Århus and Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Spanish railway operator RENFE also employs trains based on ICE 3 trains (Siemens Velaro).[6] Wider versions were ordered by China for the Beijing-Tianjin high-speed rail (CRH 3) and by Russia for the Moscow - Saint Petersburg and the Moscow - Nizhny Novgorod routes (Velaro RUS).[7]


History of the ICE

InterCityExperimental – the ICE predecessor – runs, for the first time, as a full train, near Munich (September 1985)

The Deutsche Bundesbahn started a series of trials in 1985 using the InterCityExperimental (also called ICE-V) test train. The IC Experimental was used as a showcase train and for high-speed trials, setting a new world speed record at 406.9 km/h (253 mph) on May 1, 1988.[8] The train was retired in 1996 and replaced with a new trial unit, called the ICE S.

After extensive discussion between the Bundesbahn and the Ministry of Transport regarding onboard equipment, length and width of the train and the number of trainsets required, a first batch of 41 units was ordered in 1988. The order was extended to 60 units in 1990, with German reunification in mind. However, not all trains could be delivered in time.

The ICE network was officially inaugurated on May 29, 1991 with several vehicles converging on the newly built station Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe from different directions.[9]

First generation

The first ICE trains were the trainsets of ICE 1 (power cars: Class 401), which came into service in 1989. The first regularly scheduled ICE trains ran from June 2, 1991 from Hamburg-Altona via Hamburg Hbf - Hannover Hbf - Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe - Fulda - Frankfurt Hbf - Mannheim Hbf and Stuttgart Hbf toward München Hbf on the new ICE line 6. The Hanover-Würzburg line and the Mannheim-Stuttgart line, which had both opened the same year, were hence integrated into the ICE network from the very beginning.

Due to the lack of trainsets in 1991 and early 1992, the ICE line 4 (Bremen Hbf - Hannover Hbf - Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe - Fulda - Würzburg Hbf - Nürnberg Hbf - München Hbf) couldn't start operating until June 1, 1992. Prior to that date, ICE trainsets were used when available and were integrated in the InterCity network and with IC tariffs.

In 1993, the ICE line 6's terminus was moved from Hamburg to Berlin (later, in 1998, via the Hanover-Berlin line and the former IC line 3 from Hamburg-Altona via Hannover Hbf - Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe - Fulda - Frankfurt Hbf - Mannheim Hbf - Karlsruhe Hbf - Freiburg Hbf to Basel SBB was upgraded to ICE standards as a replacement).

Second generation

ICE 2 near Ingolstadt
ICE 2 with open powerhead coupler cover

From 1997 the successor, the ICE 2 trains pulled by Class 402 powerheads, was put into service. One of the goals of the ICE 2 was to improve load balancing by building smaller train units which could be coupled or detached as needed.

These trainsets were used on the ICE line 10 Berlin-Cologne/Bonn. However, since the driving van trailers of the trains were still awaiting approval, the DB joined two portions (with one powerhead each) to form a long train, similar to the ICE 1. Only from May 24, 1998 were the ICE 2 units fully equipped with driving van trailers, and could be portioned on their run from Hamm via either Dortmund Hbf - Essen Hbf - Duisburg Hbf - Düsseldorf Hbf or Hagen Hbf - Wuppertal Hbf - Solingen-Ohligs.

In late 1998, the Hanover-Berlin high-speed rail line was opened as the third high-speed line in Germany, cutting travel time on line 10 (between Berlin and the Ruhr valley) by 2½ hours.

The ICE 1 and ICE 2 trains' loading gauge exceeds that recommended by the international railway organisation UIC. Even though the trains were originally to be used only domestically, some units are licensed to run in Switzerland and Austria. Some ICE 1 units have been equipped with an additional smaller pantograph to be able to run on the different Swiss overhead wire geometry. All ICE 1 and ICE 2 trains are single-voltage 15 kV AC, which restricts their radius of operation largely to the German-speaking countries of Europe.

Third generation

For the trains using similar technology to the ICE 3, see Siemens Velaro.

New design of ICE 3
Inside the cab of an ICE 3

To overcome the restrictions imposed on the ICE 1 and ICE 2, their successor, the ICE 3, was built to a smaller loading gauge to permit usability throughout Europe. Unlike their predecessors, the ICE 3 units are built not as locomotive-pulled trains (albeit aerodynamically optimised), but as electric multiple units with underfloor motors throughout. This also reduced the load per axle and enabled the ICE 3 to comply with the pertinent UIC standard.

Two different classes were developed: the Class 403 (domestic ICE 3) and the Class 406 (ICE 3M), the M standing for Mehrsystem (multi-voltage). The trains were labelled and marketed as the Velaro by their manufacturer, Siemens.

Just like the ICE 2, the ICE 3 and the ICE 3M were developed as half-length trains (when compared to an ICE 1) and are able to travel in portions, with individual units running on different lines, then being coupled to travel together. Since the ICE 3 trains are the only ones able to run on the Köln-Frankfurt high-speed line with its 4.0 % incline, they are used predominantly on services that utilise this line.

Deutsche Bahn is planning to order another 30 units - worth 900 million - for international traffic, especially to France.

The newest high-speed line in Germany, the Nuremberg-Ingolstadt high-speed rail line, which opened in May 2006, is the most recent addition to the ICE network. It is one of only two lines in Germany (the other being the Cologne to Frankfurt line) that are equipped for a line speed of 300 km/h. Since only 3rd generation ICE trains can travel at this speed, the ICE line 41, formerly running from Essen Hbf via Duisburg HbfFrankfurt Südbf to Nürnberg Hbf, was extended over the Nuremberg-Ingolstadt high-speed rail line and today the service run is Oberhausen HbfDuisburg HbfFrankfurt HbfNürnberg HbfIngolstadt HbfMünchen Hbf.

The ICE 3 runs at speeds up to 320 km/h on the LGV Est railway StrasbourgParis in France.


ICE-T tilting train
Driver's cab of the ICE-T

Simultaneously with the ICE 3, Siemens developed trains with tilting technology, using much of the ICE 3 technical design. The class 411 (seven cars) and 415 (five cars) ICE T EMUs and class 605 ICE TD DMUSs (four cars) were built with a similar interior and exterior design. They were specially designed for older railway lines not suitable for high speeds, for example the twisting lines in Thuringia. ICE-TD has diesel traction. ICE-T and ICE-TD can be operated jointly, but this is not done routinely.

A total of 60 class 411 and 11 class 415 have been built so far (units built after 2004 belong to the modified second generation ICE-T2 batch). Both classes work reliably. Austria's ÖBB has purchased three units in 2007, operating them jointly with DB. It might be worth noting that even though DB assigned the name ICE-T to class 411/415, the T originally did not stand for tilting, but for Triebwagen (railcar), as DB's marketing department at first deemed the top speed too low for assignment of the InterCityExpress brand and therefore planned to refer to this class as IC-T (InterCity-Triebwagen).

Rather ill-fated was the adoption of diesel services. In 2001 a total of 20 units were commissioned for use on the Dresden-Munich and Munich-Zurich lines, but these class 605 (ICE-TD) units experienced trouble from the start. Today they are used for supplemental services. Their top speed is 200 km/h. They are expensive to use within Germany since full diesel tax must be paid. Starting at the end of 2007, the class 605 has been deployed on the Hamburg-Copenhagen route. This route, using the Fehmarn Belt train ferry needs diesel trains for both the railway and the ferry, as neither has an electric supply. Later the Hamburg-Aarhus started to use these trains. The Danish railway currently has a severe shortage of long-distance diesel trains since their new IC4, with features similar to the ICE-TD, has also been ill-fated and severely delayed in delivery. The ICE-TD can have lower operational cost for this traffic, since diesel for train usage has lower tax in Denmark, and the trains fill their tanks there.


For the EXPO 2000 in Hanover, Deutsche Bahn provided 120 additional train services. Some of these special services were operated by ICE trains and labelled "ExpoExpress" (EXE). These services also constituted the first widespread use of the then-new ICE 3 train sets, presenting them to the domestic and international general public.[10]


ICE design

An outstanding characteristic of the ICE trains is their colour design, which has been registered by the DB as an aesthetic model and hence is protected as intellectual property.[11] The trains are painted in Pale Grey (RAL 7035) with a Traffic Red (RAL 3020) stripe on the lower part of the vehicle. The continuous black band of windows and their oval door windows differentiate the ICEs from any other DB train.

The ICE 1 and ICE 2 units originally had an Orient Red (RAL 3031) stripe, accompanied by a Pastel Violet stripe below (RAL 4009, 26 cm wide). These stripes were repainted with the current Traffic Red between 1998 and 2000, when all ICE units were being checked and repainted in anticipation of the EXPO 2000.

The "ICE" lettering uses the colour Agate Grey (RAL 7038), the frame is painted in Quartz Grey (RAL 7039). The plastic platings in the interior all utilise the Pale Grey (RAL 7035) colour tone. Originally, the ICE 1 interior was designed in pastel tones with an emphasis on mint, following the DB colour scheme of the day. The ICE 1 trains were refurbished in the mid-2000s, however, and now follow the same design as the ICE 3, which makes heavy usage of indirect lighting and wooden furnishings.

The distinctive ICE design was developed by a team of designers around Alexander Neumeister in the early 1980s and first used on the InterCityExperimental (ICE V). The team around Neumeister then designed the ICE 1, ICE 2, and ICE 3/T/TD. The interior of the trains was designed by Jens Peters working for BPR-Design in Stuttgart. Among others, he was responsible for the heightened roof in the restaurant car and the special lighting. The same team also developed the design for the now discontinued InterRegio trains in the mid-1980s.

Differences in design

ICE 1 – in service since 1991
ICE 3 - a new design
ICE T2 (Series 2 of the ICE T)
ICE (generally): Pale grey livery with red stripe and convoluted rubber gaiters between carriages (distinctive from all other DB trains)
Black window band with oval door windows (distinctive from InterCity / Metropolitan cars)
Wheels-on-rails technology (distinctive from the Transrapid)

ICE 1: two power heads and intermediate cars; restaurant car with high roof; nose with DB logo that interrupts red stripe (unique to the ICE 1)

ICE 2: one power head and one driving van trailer accessible to passengers; BordRestaurant/Bistro car has same height as other cars; contrary to ICE 1: nose is vertically divisible, parts of the coupler protruding to the outside

ICE 3: no power heads, but an EMU: end cars with rounded windshield and passenger lounge, unpowered transformer car with pantograph; red stripe is interrupted at the end cars by ICE logo, then runs downwards and across the nose lid; window band becomes narrow and ends near the windshield.

ICE T/TD: similar to ICE 3, except: steeper front; pantograph (T)/ aerodynamic cover (TD) on end cars; no ICE logo on the end coaches; red stripe stays straight, red stripe ends near the lamps.

ICE T2: like ICE T series 1, except: painted sheet metal instead of glass between windows, front lamps with LEDs

ICE V: violet, wide stripe runs deeper than on newer stock and does not continue over the nose lid; Deutsche Bundesbahn logo and preliminary ICE logo; clad rubber gaiters; power heads larger than intermediate cars and with rounder front; front hedge ICE 2-like since 1995

ICE S: old-style pastel violet/orient red stripe turns yellow/grey on intermediate coaches, designating a service vehicle; ICE logo with additional letter "S" in white; gray and yellow lines form a curve on intermediate car 2; high-voltage lines between carriages; maximum speed 330 km/h instead of 280 km/h

Trainset numbers

While every car in an ICE train has its own unique registration number, the trains are usually remain coupled to fixed trainsets for several years. For easier reference, each has been assigned a trainset number that is printed over each bogie of every car. These numbers usually correspond with the registration numbers of the powerheads or cab cars.

ICE 1: Tz 01 to 20 traction motors use thyristor frequency converters
Tz 51 to 71 traction motors use GTO frequency converters
Tz 72 to 90 GTO control, fitted for service into Switzerland

ICE 2: Tz 201 to 244

ICE 3: Tz 301 to 337 first series
Tz 351 to 367 second series

ICE 3M: Tz 4601 to 4613 7 trainsets, numbers intermittent
Tz 4651 to 4654 owned by NS Hispeed
ICE 3MF: Tz 4680 to 4685 refitted for service into France

ICE T: Tz 1101 to 1132 first series
7 cars Tz 1151 to 1178 second series
Tz 1180 to 1184 refitted for service into Switzerland
Tz 1190 to 1192 sold to ÖBB

ICE T: Tz 1501 to 1506
5 cars Tz 1520 to 1524 originally fitted for service into Switzerland, cab cars switched with Tz 1180 to 1184

ICE TD: Tz 5501 to 5520

Interior equipment

The ICE trains adhere to a high standard of technology: all cars are fully air-conditioned and nearly every seat features a headphone jack which enables the passenger to listen to several on-board music and voice programmes as well as several radio stations. Some seats in the 1st class section (in some trains also in 2nd class) are equipped with video displays showing movies and pre-recorded infotainment programmes. Each train is equipped with special cars that feature in-train repeaters for improved mobile phone reception as well as designated quiet zones where the use of mobile phones is discouraged. The newer ICE 3 trains also have larger digital displays in all coaches, displaying, among other things, Deutsche Bahn advertising, the predicted arrival time at the next destination, and the current speed of the train.

1st class open carriage in an ICE 2

The ICE 1 was originally equipped with a passenger information system based on BTX, however this system was eventually taped over and removed in the later refurbishment. The ICE 3 trains feature touch screen terminals in some carriages, enabling travellers to print train timetables. The system is also located in the restaurant car of the ICE 2.

The ICE 1 fleet is currently seeing a major overhaul, supposed to extend the lifetime of the trains by another 15 to 20 years. Seats and the interior design are adapted to the ICE 3 design, electric sockets are added to every seat, the audio and video entertainment systems are being removed and electronic seat reservation indicators are added above the seats.

ICE 2 trains feature electric sockets at selected seats, ICE 3 and ICE T trains have sockets at nearly every seat.

The ICE 3 and ICE T are similar in their interior design, but the other ICE types differ. The ICE 1, the ICE 2 and seven-car ICE T (Class 411) are equipped with a full restaurant car. The five-car ICE T (Class 415) and ICE 3, however, have been designed without a restaurant, they feature a bistro coach instead. Since October 1, 2006 smoking is prohibited in the bistro coaches, similar to the restaurant cars, which have always been non-smoking.

All trains feature a disabled toilet and wheelchair spaces. The ICE 1 and ICE 2 have a special conference compartment whilst the ICE 3 features a compartment suitable for small children. The ICE 3 and ICE T omit the usual train manager's compartment and have an open counter named "ServicePoint" instead.

An electronic display above each seat indicates the locations between which the seat has been reserved. Passengers without reservations are permitted to take seats with a blank display, or seats with no reservation on the current section.

Internet Access on ICE Trains

ICE 3 with T-Mobile Hotspot advertisement in Ulm

In late 2005, seven ICE 3 units were equipped with wireless LANs to provide passengers with Internet access, marketed under the brand name "Railnet". These trains are distinguishable by the large T-Mobile adverts near the train vestibules. At first, the Internet connection functioned between Dortmund and Cologne only, but the DB and T-Mobile have announced plans to offer the service on the entire length of the Cologne-Frankfurt high-speed rail line. Access was free of charge during the trial, which ended on April 10, 2006. Internet access is now available to T-Mobile customers (who will be billed according to their individual tariff agreement) or for customers who purchase vouchers valid for 1 hour or 30 days.[12]


The maintenance schedule of the trains is divided into seven steps:

  1. Every 4,000 kilometres, an inspection taking about 1½ hours is undertaken. The waste collection tanks are emptied, and fresh water tanks are refilled. Acute defects (e.g. malfunctioning doors) are rectified. Furthermore, safety tests are conducted. These include checking the pantograph pressure, cleaning and checking for fissures in the rooftop insulators, inspecting transformers and checking the pantograph's current collector for wear. The wheels are also checked in this inspection.
  2. Every 20,000 kilometres, a 2½ hour inspection is conducted, called Nachschau. In this inspection, the brakes, the Linienzugbeeinflussung systems and the anti-lock brakes are checked as well.
  3. After 80,000 kilometres, the train undergoes the Inspektionsstufe 1. During the two modules, each lasting eight hours, the brakes receive a thorough checkup, as well as the air conditioning and the kitchen equipment. The batteries are checked, as well as the seats and the passenger information system.
  4. Once the train has reached 240,000 kilometres, the Inspektionsstufe 2 mandates a check of the electric motors, the bearings and the driveshafts of the bogies and the couplers. This inspection is usually carried out in two modules taking eight hours each.
  5. About once a year (when reaching 480,000 km) the Inspektionsstufe 3 takes place, at three times eight hours each. Additionally to the other checkup phases, it includes checks on the pneumatics systems, the transformer cooling and maintenance work inside the passenger compartment.
  6. The 1st Revision is carried out after 1.2 million km. It includes a thorough checkup of all components of the train and is carried out in two five-day segments.
  7. The seventh and final step is the 2nd Revision, which happens when reaching 2.4 million kilometres. The bogies are exchanged for new ones, and many components of the train are disassembled and checked. This step also takes two five-day segments.

Maintenance on the ICE trains is carried out in special ICE workshops located in Basel, Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig[13] and Munich. The train is worked upon at up to four levels at a time, and fault reports are sent to the workshops in advance by the on-board computer system to keep maintenance time at a minimum.

Route planning and network layout

ICE network
  • red: High-speed lines for 300 km/h (186 mph)
  • orange: High-speed lines for 250 to 280  km/h (156 to 175 mph)
  • blue: Upgraded lines, 200 to 230 km/h (125 to 145 mph)
  • grey: Other lines, max. 160 km/h (100 mph)
Similar to the above map, also showing frequencies.

The ICE system is a polycentric network. Connections are offered in either 30-minute, hourly or bi-hourly intervals. Furthermore, additional services run during peak times, and some services call at lesser stations during off-peak times.

Unlike the French TGV or the Japanese Shinkansen systems, the vehicles, tracks and operations were not designed as an integrated whole; rather, the ICE system has been integrated into Germany's pre-existing system of railway lines instead. One of the effects of this is that the ICE 3 trains can reach a speed of 300 km/h (186 mph) only on some stretches of line, and cannot currently reach their maximum allowed speed of 330 km/h on German railway lines (though a speed of 320 km/h is reached by ICE 3 in France).

The line most heavily utilised by ICE trains is the Riedbahn between Frankfurt and Mannheim due to the bundling of many ICE lines in that region. When considering all traffic (freight, local and long distance passenger), the busiest line carrying ICE traffic is the Bayerische Maximiliansbahn between Munich and Augsburg, carrying about 300 trains per day.

North-South connections

The network's main backbone consists of six north-south lines:

  1. from Hamburg-Altona via Hamburg HbfHannover HbfKassel-WilhelmshöheFulda BfFrankfurt HbfMannheim Hbf either via Karlsruhe HbfFreiburg Bf to Basel SBB (ICE line 20) or straight to Stuttgart Hbf (ICE line 22)
  2. from Hamburg-AltonaHamburg Hbf and Bremen Hbf via Hannover HbfKassel-WilhelmshöheFulda BfWürzburg Hbf either via Nürnberg HbfIngolstadt Hbf or Donauwörth BfAugsburg Hbf to München Hbf (ICE line 25)
  3. from Hamburg-Altona via Hamburg HbfBerlin-SpandauBerlin HbfBerlin SüdkreuzLeipzig HbfNürnberg Hbf either via Augsburg Hbf or Ingolstadt Hbf to München Hbf (ICE line 28)
  4. from Berlin Ostbf via Berlin HbfBerlin-SpandauBraunschweig HbfKassel-WilhelmshöheFulda BfFrankfurt HbfMannheim Hbf either via Karlsruhe HbfFreiburg Bf to Basel SBB (ICE line 12) or via Stuttgart HbfUlm HbfAugsburg Hbf to München Hbf (ICE line 11)
  5. from Amsterdam CS or Dortmund Hbf via Duisburg HbfDüsseldorf HbfKöln HbfFrankfurt FlughafenMannheim Hbf either via Karlsruhe HbfFreiburg Bf to Basel SBB (ICE line 43) or via Stuttgart HbfUlm HbfAugsburg Hbf to München Hbf (ICE line 42)
  6. from Amsterdam CSDuisburg HbfDüsseldorf Hbf (ICE line 78) or Bruxelles-MidiAachen Hbf (ICE line 79) via Köln HbfFrankfurt FlughafenFrankfurt HbfWürzburg HbfNürnberg Hbf to München Hbf (passes, but does not call at Ingolstadt Hbf, ICE line 41)

(Also applies to trains in the opposite directions, taken from 2007 network map)

East-West connections

Furthermore, the network has three main East-West thoroughfares:

  1. from Berlin Ostbf via Berlin HbfHannover HbfBielefeld HbfHamm (Westfalen) either via Dortmund HbfEssen HbfDuisburg HbfDüsseldorf Hbf to Köln/Bonn Flughafen or via Hagen HbfWuppertal Hbf – Solingen Hbf – Köln Hbf to Bonn Hbf (ICE line 10, train partitions in Hamm)
  2. from Dresden Hbf (with some trains from Berlin Gesundbrunnen) via Leipzig HbfErfurt HbfFulda BfFrankfurt Hbf either via Frankfurt FlughafenMainz Hbf to Wiesbaden Hbf or (off-peak services) via Darmstadt HbfMannheim Hbf – Kaiserslautern Hbf to Saarbrücken Hbf (ICE line 50, train partitions in Frankfurt Hbf)
  3. from Dresden Hbf via Leipzig HbfErfurt HbfKassel-Wilhelmshöhe – Paderborn Hbf – Dortmund HbfEssen HbfDuisburg HbfDüsseldorf Hbf to Köln Hbf (IC/ICE line 51)

(Also applies to trains in the opposite directions, taken from 2007 network map)

German branch lines

ICE between Zürich and Stuttgart in Tuttlingen

Some train lines extend past the core network and branch off to serve the following connections:

  1. from Berlin Hbf to Rostock Hbf (from June 10 2007)
  2. from Hamburg Hbf to Kiel Hbf
  3. from Bremen Hbf to Oldenburg Hbf
  4. from Köln Hbf to Aachen Hbf (continuing to Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid)
  5. from Koblenz Hbf to Trier Hbf
  6. from Mannheim Hbf via Kaiserslautern Hbf to Saarbrücken Hbf (continuing to Paris Est from June 10, 2007)
  7. from Stuttgart Hbf via Rottweil – Tuttlingen – Singen to Schaffhausen (continuing Zürich HB)
  8. from München Hbf to Garmisch-Partenkirchen
  9. from Nürnberg Hbf via Regensburg Hbf – Plattling to Passau Hbf (continuing via Linz Hbf to Wien Westbf)

(Also applies to trains in the opposite directions)


Several lines on the ICE network are highly trafficked, among them:

  1. from Augsburg Hbf to München Hbf (Ulm–Munich line, most frequented line)
  2. from Dortmund Hbf via Bochum HbfEssen HbfDuisburg HbfDüsseldorf Hbf to Köln Hbf (Dortmund–Duisburg and Cologne–Duisburg lines)
  3. from Hamm (Westfalen) via Hagen HbfWuppertal Hbf – Solingen Hbf to Köln Hbf
  4. from Frankfurt Hbf to Mannheim Hbf (Riedbahn, highest IC/ICE frequency in Germany)
  5. from Karlsruhe Hbf via Freiburg to Basel SBB (Rhine Valley Railway)

(Also applies to trains in the opposite directions)


The so-called "ICE-Sprinter" trains are extra fast trains between Germany's major cities running in the morning and evening hours. They are tailored for business travellers or long-distance commuters and are marketed by DB as an alternative to domestic flights. Some of the Sprinter services continue as normal ICE services after reaching their destination. Sprinter trains usually depart around 06:00 for morning services and 18:00 for evening services.

A reservation is mandatory on the ICE-Sprinter (currently €11 in 2nd and €16 in 1st class). In addition to the usual 1st class service (on-seat service, free newspapers like Financial Times Deutschland or Handelsblatt) the 1st class in the Sprinter trains also offers free drinks, an on-seat breakfast or dinner and additional newspapers. In the 2nd class, newspapers are provided in the carriages at no extra cost.

The first Sprinter service was established between Munich and Frankfurt in 1992. Frankfurt-Hamburg followed in 1993 and Cologne-Hamburg in 1994. This service ran as a Metropolitan service between December 1996 and December 2004. In 1998, a Berlin-Frankfurt service was introduced, and a service between Cologne and Stuttgart ran between December 2005 and October 2006. Until December 2006, a morning Sprinter service ran between Frankfurt and Munich (with an intermediate stop at Mannheim), taking 3:25 hours for the journey.

As of January 2010, the individual ICE Sprinter lines are:

No. Departure station Intermediate stops Destination Travel time (hh:mm) Time of day
Berlin Ostbf Berlin Hbf, Berlin-Spandau Frankfurt (Main) Hbf 3:36
Frankfurt (Main) Hbf Berlin-Spandau, Berlin Hbf Berlin Ostbf 3:37
1094 Hamburg-Altona Essen Hbf, Düsseldorf Hbf Köln Hbf 3:29 Morning
1095 Köln Hbf Düsseldorf Hbf, Duisburg Hbf, Essen Hbf, Hamburg Hbf Hamburg-Altona 3:29 Morning
1097 Hamburg-Altona Hamburg Hbf, Hannover Hbf Frankfurt Hbf 3:19 Morning

(Source: Deutsche Bahn AG[14])

Line segments abroad

Some ICE trains also run on services abroad - sometimes diverting from their original lines.

  1. from Duisburg Hbf to Amsterdam CS (The Netherlands)
  2. from Köln Hbf via Aachen Hbf and Liège-Guillemins to Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid
  3. from Saarbrücken Hbf via Baudrecourt to Paris Est (France)
  4. from Basel SBB to Interlaken Ost (Switzerland)
  5. from Basel SBB to Zürich HB (Switzerland)
  6. from Stuttgart Hbf via Schaffhausen to Zürich HB (Switzerland)
  7. from München Hbf via Kufstein to Innsbruck Hbf (Austria)
  8. from München Hbf via Salzburg Hbf – Linz Hbf to Wien Westbf (Austria)
  9. from Passau Hbf via Linz Hbf to Wien Westbf (Austria)

(Also applies to the opposite directions)

Since December 2006, Stuttgart Hbf and Zürich HB have been connected by a bi-hourly service.

Lines to and in Austria

The ÖBB in Austria is also using two ICE T trainsets (classified as ÖBB Class 4011 between Wien Westbahnhof, Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof and Bregenz (without stops in Germany). They are, however, not using the tilting technology. Since December 2007 ÖBB and DB are offering a bi-hourly connection between Wien Westbf and Frankfurt Hbf.

Since June 2007, ICE 3M trains have been running between Frankfurt Hbf and Paris Est via Saarbrücken and Kaiserslautern. Together with the TGV-operated line between Paris Est, Stuttgart Hbf and München Hbf, this ICE line is part of the "LGV Est européenne", also called "Paris-Ostfrankreich-Süddeutschland" (or POS) for short, a pan-European high-speed line between France and Germany.

From late 2007 on, ICE TD trains will link Berlin Hbf with Copenhagen via Hamburg Hbf.

Intra-Swiss ICE trains

To avoid empty runs or excess waits, several services exist that operate exclusively inside Switzerland:

These trains, despite being officially notated as ICEs, are more comparable to a Swiss InterRegio or RegioExpress train, calling at small stations like Möhlin or Sissach. As common in Switzerland, these trains can be used without paying extra for a supplement.


There have been several accidents involving ICE trains. The Eschede disaster was the only accident with fatalities inside the train, but other accidents have resulted in major damage to the trainsets involved.

Eschede disaster

Eschede site – Remains of ICE 884 "Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen"

The ICE accident near Eschede that happened on 3 June 1998 was a severe railway accident and the worst ever to involve a high-speed train, as well as the worst railway accident since modern Germany's foundation in 1949. Trainset 51, travelling as ICE 884 "Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen" from Munich to Hamburg, derailed at 200 km/h (125 mph), killing 101 and injuring 88.

The cause of the accident was a wheel rim which broke and damaged the train six kilometres south of the accident site. The wheel rim penetrated the carriage floor and lifted the check rail of a set of points close to Eschede station. The broken-off check rail then forced the point blades of the following set of points to change direction, and the rear cars of the trainset were diverted to a different track. They hit the pillars of a street overpass, which then collapsed onto the tracks. Only three cars and the front powerhead passed under the bridge, the rest of the 14-car train jackknifed into the collapsed bridge.

Other accidents

Damaged ICE T trainset 1192

On 27 September 2001, trainset 5509 fell off a work platform at the Hof maintenance facility and was written off.

On 22 November 2001, powerhead 401 020 caught fire. The train was stopped at the station in Offenbach am Main near Frankfurt a.M. No passengers were harmed, but the powerhead had to be written off.

On 6 January 2004, trainset 1106 caught on fire while it was parked at Leipzig. Two cars were written off, and the others are now used as spares.

On 1 April 2004, trainset 321 collided with a tractor that had fallen onto the track at a tunnel entrance near Istein and derailed. No one was injured. Trainset 321 was temporarily taken apart, its cars being switched with cars from other ICE 3 trainsets.

Powerhead 401 553 suffered major damage in a collision with a car on the Riedbahn in April 2006.

On 28 April 2006, trainset 73 collided head-on with two BLS Re 465 locomotives at Thun in Switzerland. The engineer of the Swiss locomotives was unfamiliar with the new layout of the station, which had been recently changed. He did not see a shunting signal ordering him to stop. The locomotives automatically engaged the emergency brakes when he passed the signal, but came to a stop on the same track as the approaching ICE. The ICE was travelling at a speed of 74 km/h. The emergency brake slowed the train to 56 km/h at the point of collision. 30 passengers and the driver of the ICE suffered minor injuries, the driver of the Swiss locomotives having jumped to safety. Both trains suffered major damage. The powerhead 401 573 had to be rebuilt using components from three damaged powerheads (401 573, 401 020 and 401 551).

On 1 March 2008, trainset 1192, travelling as ICE 23, collided with a tree which had fallen onto the track near Brühl after being blown down by cyclone Emma. The driver suffered severe injuries. The trainset is back in service, its cabcar having been replaced with that from trainset 1106.

Trainset 11 derailed after hitting a flock of sheep

On 26 April 2008, trainset 11, travelling as ICE 885, collided with a flock of sheep on the Hanover-Würzburg high-speed rail line near Fulda. Both powerheads and ten of the 12 cars derailed. The train came to a stop 1300 meters into the Landrückentunnel. 19 of the 130 passengers suffered mostly minor injuries, four of them needing hospital treatment.[15]

On 21 March 2009, as it pulled into the station at Fulda on its way to Munich an ICE hit and killed a 14 year old boy who had been crossing the tracks.

A cracked axle was blamed for a low-speed derailment of a third-generation ICE in Cologne in July 2008. The accident, in which no-one was hurt, caused the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn to recall its newest ICEs as a safety measure.[16] In October 2008, the company recalled its ICE-T trains after a further crack was found.[17]

Fare structure


ICE trains are the highest category (Class A) trains in the fare system of the Deutsche Bahn. Their fares are not calculated on a fixed per-kilometre table as with other trains, but instead have fixed prices for station-to-station connections, depending on a multitude of factors including the railway line category and the general demand on the line. Even on lines where the ICE is not faster than an ordinary IC or EC train (for example Hamburg to Dortmund), an additional surcharge will be levied on the ground that the ICE trains have a higher comfort level than IC/EC trains.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, a comparably low € 2 surcharge has to be paid for each trip on the "ICE International". Monthly and annual passes (as well as student travel cards) include this surcharge.


On the intra-Austrian lines (Vienna-Innsbruck-Bregenz, Vienna-Salzburg(-Munich), Vienna-Passau(-Hamburg) and Innsbruck-Kufstein(-Berlin)) no additional fees are charged.


Likewise, the trains running to and from Zürich, Interlaken and Chur, as well as those on the intra-Swiss ICE trains (see above) can be used without any surcharge.

In Switzerland and Austria, a ride on the ICE takes nearly as long as on a domestic train. This is because of the comparably short length of travel and the low speeds in these countries (often no more than 160 km/h, sometimes 200 km/h) when compared to Germany.


The ICE trains Hamburg - Copenhagen cost the same as the EuroCity trains, there are no other trains. The ICE trains Hamburg - Aarhus have 9 € higher fare than other trains (for which two changes are needed). Inside Denmark the ICE trains have the same fare as regional trains.


H0 Scale

The ICE prototype has been produced by both Märklin and Fleischmann, although is not a current catalogue item. Models of the ICE 1 & ICE 2 have been made by Fleischmann,[18] Roco[19] Märklin and Trix. The ICE 3 has been produced by Märklin, Trix, Mehano and Piko.[20] Lima[21] and Fleischmann both produce ICE T models in H0. Roco make a model of the ICE TD.[22]

N Scale

Fleischmann have the ICE 1, ICE 2 and ICE T in their N scale range.[23] Minitrix produces models of the ICE 3.

TT scale

Tillig produce ICE 1 models in TT[24] and Piko produce the ICE 3[25]

Z Gauge

Märklin have made models of the ICE 1 in their Mini Club range.


Piko produce in H0 the "Piko City Express",[26] which closely resembles an ICE 2. LGB sell a G scale "LCE" train, which mimics the ICE 1.

Possible future services

Deutsche Bahn has been given permission to run High Speed passenger trains through the Channel Tunnel, giving them access to High Speed 1. Eurotunnel (the owners of the Channel Tunnel) said: "Deutsche Bahn fulfills all the conditions for transporting passengers via the tunnel", adding that the German railway company was now welcome to do so. The company was previously forbidden from using the tunnel because its trains did not meet special fire safety regulations, which Eurostar trains meet. According to a Eurotunnel spokeswoman, the ban has now been lifted. This means that through journeys which have been aspired by Deutsche Bahn can now commence from London to Germany via France.[27][28]


ICE 3 on a German stamp
  • On October 5, 2006 the Deutsche Post AG released a series of stamps, among them a stamp picturing an ICE 3, at 55+25 euro cents.
  • At both ends of ICE-T and ICE 3 trains there is a passenger compartment (one end 1st and the other end 2nd class) with a view of the tracks, through a transparent glass window separating the compartment from the driver's cabin. The driver can, however, put "cup-cake frosting" on the glass at will at the press of a button.
  • Bicycles are not permitted on any ICE trains.
  • Three specially-built washing-bays for ICE trains exist in Hamburg-Eidelstedt, Frankfurt-Höchst and München Hbf.
  • The ICE 3 was trainsurfed in 2005.
  • In 2006, Lego modelled one of its train sets after the ICE.[29]

See also


  1. ^ (German) "15 Jahre Hochgeschwindigkeitsverkehr". Deutsche Bahn AG. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  2. ^ (German) "Mit dem ICE International nach Belgien". Deutsche Bahn AG. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  3. ^ (German) "Mit der Bahn in die Niederlande". Deutsche Bahn AG. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  4. ^ (German)"Premiernfahrt nach Paris". Deutsche Bahn AG. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  5. ^ (German) Staff writer (2006). Die Bahn am Ball. Deutsche Bahn AG. pp. 96. 
  6. ^ "International breakthrough for Siemens high-speed train technology". Siemens AG. 2001-04-03. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  7. ^ (Russian) "Новый международный успех высокоскоростных поездов «Сименс»". Siemens AG. 2006-03-19. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  8. ^ (German) Peter Jehle, René Naumann, Rainer Schach (2006). Transrapid und Rad-Schiene-Hochgeschwindigkeitsbahn: Ein gesamtheitlicher Systemvergleich. Springer. pp. 20. ISBN 354028334X. 
  9. ^ (German) "Die neuen Wohlfahrtsmarken". Caritasverband Stuttgart e. V.. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  10. ^ (German) "Dritte Generation ICE-Triebzüge für DB Reise&Touristik". Elektrische Bahnen, Elektrotechnik im Verkehrswesen (11). 2000. ISSN 0013-5437. 
  11. ^ (German) Wolfgang Maaßen. "Frei von Rechten Dritter...". Bund Freischaffender Foto-Designer e. V.. Retrieved 2007-02-13. 
  12. ^ (German) "Internet im ICE geht in Regelbetrieb über". 2006-04-07.,39023151,39142690,00.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-13. 
  13. ^ (German) "Neues ICE-Instandhaltungswerk in Leipzig in Betrieb". mdr. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  14. ^ "ICE Sprinter, long-distance services". Deutsche Bahn AG. Retrieved 2007-02-13. 
  15. ^, ICE-Unfall bei Fulda (map)
  16. ^ "Prosecutors Open Investigation into Derailed Train". Spiegel Online. 2008-07-11.
  17. ^ "Deutsche Bahn to Recall Part of High-Speed Train Fleet". Deutsche Welle. 2008-10-24.
  18. ^ (German), Fleischmann H0 range
  19. ^ (German), Roco ICE 1
  20. ^, Piko ICE 3
  21. ^, Lima ICE T
  22. ^, Roco ICE TD
  23. ^ (German)
  24. ^, Tillig ICE 1.
  25. ^, Piko TT ICE 3
  26. ^, Piko City Express
  27. ^ (English) Deutsche Welle
  28. ^, Deutsche Bahn gets green light for Eurotunnel use - AFP, 16 December 2009
  29. ^ "LEGO Store - Passenger Train". LEGO. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 

External links

  •, The ICE Pages - Unofficial website
  • – Pictures of ICE trains
  • (German), hochgeschwindigkeit – DB corporate web site celebrating 15 years of ICE traffic
  • (German) – Coach alignment of all DB long-distance trains
  •, Long-distance network maps - Network maps of both IC and ICE networks
  •, ICE network (2010) – PDF map by Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways Inc.)
  • - ICE routes for 2009

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