Intercity Express

The Intercity Express (commonly known as ICE (German pronunciation: [iːtseːˈʔeː])) is a system of high-speed trains predominantly running in Germany, Austria, Denmark, France, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. It is the highest service category of rail offered in Europe and is the flagship train of the German state railway, Deutsche Bahn. There are currently 259 trainsets in use. 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, levied on the grounds that the ICE trains have a higher level of comfort. Travelling at speeds up to 320 km/h (200 mph), they are tailored for business travellers or long-distance commuters and are marketed by Deutsche Bahn as an alternative to flights.

Intercity Express
A German ICE 3 trainset
LocaleGermany, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and France
Dates of operation1985present
PredecessorSee History
Track gaugeStandard gauge

Apart from domestic use, the trains can also be seen in countries neighbouring Germany. There are, for example, ICE 1 lines to Basel and Zurich. ICE 3 trains also run to Liège and Brussels[1] and at lower speeds to Amsterdam.[2] On 10 June 2007, a new line between Paris and Frankfurt/Stuttgart was opened, jointly operated by ICE and TGV trains. ICE trains to London via the Channel Tunnel were planned for 2018, however DB has stated it is awaiting new class 407 rolling stock before it can run the route. DB received its certificate to run trains through the tunnel in June 2013.[3][4] While ICE 3M trains operate the Paris-Frankfurt service (with the exception of trains 9553/9552, which operate with TGV Duplex equipment and are cross-crewed with both SNCF and DB staff), SNCF's TGV runs from Paris to Munich (via Stuttgart), with mixed crews on both trains.[5][6] German and Austrian ICE T trains run to Vienna. On 9 December 2007, the ICE TD was introduced on the service from Berlin via Hamburg to the Danish cities of Aarhus and Copenhagen. The ICE service between Copenhagen and Berlin was replaced by danish IC3 trains on October 2, 2017. The stated reason was a much higher cost of the ICE trains compared to the IC3 trains. ICE service will likely resume when the tunnel beneath the Fehmarn Belt between Denmark and Germany is complete around 2029.

The Spanish railway operator RENFE also employs trains based on the ICE 3 (Siemens Velaro) called AVE Class 103 which are certified to run at speeds up to 350 km/h (220 mph).[7] Wider versions were ordered by China for the Beijing–Tianjin intercity railway link (CRH 3) and by Russia for the Moscow–Saint Petersburg and Moscow–Nizhny Novgorod routes (Velaro RUS).[8]


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 1 May 1988.[9] 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 29 May 1991 with several vehicles converging on the newly built station Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe from different directions.[10]

TypeProductionNumber builtvmax [km/h]In ServiceStatus
InterCityExperimental (also ICE/V)1983–198513501985–2000 (measurement and test drives)retired
ICE 11989–199360280since 199059 in service
ICE 21995–199746280since 199644 in service
ICE S (also ICE R)19961280 / 330since 1997in service for measurement and test drives
ICE T1996–200571230since 199970 in service (67 with DB, 3 with ÖBB)
DB Class 403 (“ICE 3”)1997–200650330since 2000all in service
DB Class 406 (ICE 3M / ICE 3MF)1997–200617330since 200016 in service (13 with DB, 3 with NS)
Metropolitan1998–19992220“ICE” branded: 2004–06/2005, 12/2005–2006, since 2009both in service
ICE TD1998–2000202002001–2003, 2006–2017retired
Velaro D (also called ICE 3 by DB)2009–201217320since 2013all

in service

ICE 4since 201438 (137 planned)250 / 265since 201733 in service

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 2 June 1991 from Hamburg-Altona via Hamburg HbfHannover HbfKassel-WilhelmshöheFuldaFrankfurt HbfMannheim Hbf and Stuttgart Hbf toward München Hbf at hourly intervals[11] 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 HbfHannover HbfKassel-WilhelmshöheFuldaWürzburg HbfNürnberg HbfMünchen Hbf) could not start operating until 1 June 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 HbfKassel-WilhelmshöheFuldaFrankfurt HbfMannheim HbfKarlsruhe HbfFreiburg Hbf to Basel SBB was upgraded to ICE standards as a replacement).

Second generation

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 24 May 1998 were the ICE 2 units fully equipped with driving van trailers and could be portioned on their run from Hamm via either Dortmund HbfEssen HbfDuisburg HbfDüsseldorf Hbf or Hagen HbfWuppertal HbfSolingen-Ohligs.

In late 1998, the Hanover–Berlin high-speed railway 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. ICE 2 trains can run at a top speed of 280 km/h (174 mph).

Third generation

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 the European standard gauge network (except the UK non-highspeed network) . 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-system). 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 has ordered another 16 units – worth 495 million – for international traffic, especially to France.

The newest high-speed line in Germany, the Erfurt–Leipzig/Halle high-speed railway, which opened in December 2015, is the most recent addition to the ICE network. It is one of three lines in Germany (the others being the Nuremberg-Ingolstadt high-speed rail line and Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed rail line) that are equipped for a line speed of 300 km/h (190 mph). 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 (200 mph) on the LGV Est railway StrasbourgParis in France.+

The latest generation ICE 3, Class 407, is known as the New ICE 3, and is part of the Siemens Velaro family with the model designation Velaro D. It currently runs on many services in Germany and through to other countries like France. These trains were meant for the planned Deutsche Bahn services through the channel tunnel to London. Due to delay in the delivery of the new Velaro D rolling stock the London service was cancelled.

Fourth generation

Procurement of ICx trainsets started c.2008 as replacements for locomotive hauled InterCity and EuroCity train services- the scope was later expanded to include replacements for ICE 1 and ICE 2 trainsets. In 2011 Siemens AG was awarded the contract for 130 seven car intercity train replacements, and 90 ten car ICE train replacements, plus further options - the contract for the ten car sets was modified 2013 to expand the trainset length to twelve vehicles. The name ICx was used for the trains during the initial stages of the procurement; in late 2015 the trains were rebranded ICE 4, at the unveiling of the first trainset, and given the class designation 412 by Deutsche Bahn.

Two pre-production trainsets were manufactured and used for testing prior to introduction of the main series.


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 DMUs (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 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). The trainsets of the T series were manufactured in 1999. The tilting system has been provided by Fiat Ferroviaria, now part of Alstom. ICE T trains can run at speeds of up to 230 km/h (140 mph).


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 so the trains were mothballed. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, they were used for supplemental services. Their top speed is 200 km/h (125 mph). 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.


ICE livery

A notable 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.[12] 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 train layouts

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 up to 14 intermediate cars; restaurant car with high roof; nose with DB logo that interrupts red stripe (unique to the ICE 1); maximum speed is 280 km/h (174 mph).

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; maximum speed is 280 km/h (174 mph).[13]

ICE 3:no power heads, but an EMU: end cars with rounded windshield and passenger lounge, unpowered transformer car with pantograph; maximum speed of 320 km/h (198 mph); 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; maximum speed of 230 km/h (140 mph); no ICE logo on end coaches (ICE T)/ aerodynamic cover on end cars; maximum speed of 200 km/h (125 mph);[14] ICE logo on the left side of the end coaches (ICE TD); red stripe stays straight; red stripe ends near the lamps; windows narrows to a point instead of a flat end as on the ICE 3

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:ICE logo with additional letter "S" in white; most have only one intermediate coach; high-voltage lines between carriages; maximum speed is 330 km/h (206 mph)

Trainset numbers

While every car in an ICE train has its own unique registration number, the trains usually remain coupled as 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 20traction motors use thyristor frequency converters
Tz 51 to 71traction motors use GTO frequency converters
Tz 72 to 90GTO control, fitted for service into Switzerland

ICE 2:Tz 201 to 244

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

ICE 3M:Tz 4601 to 46137 trainsets, numbers intermittent
Tz 4651 to 4654owned by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS)
ICE 3MF:Tz 4680 to 4684refitted for service into France
ICE 3MF:Tz 4685refitted for service into France, and the United Kingdom via the Channel Tunnel

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

ICE T:Tz 1501 to 1506
5 carsTz 1520 to 1524originally 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.

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 saw a major overhaul between 2005 and 2008, supposed to extend the lifetime of the trains by another 15 to 20 years. Seats and the interior design were adapted to the ICE 3 design, electric sockets were added to every seat, the audio and video entertainment systems were removed and electronic seat reservation indicators were added above the seats. The ICE 2 trains have been undergoing the same procedure since 2010.

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 in their original design. 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 1 October 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.


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 check, 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. In addition to the other checkup phases, it includes checks on the pneumatics systems, and the transformer cooling. Maintenance work is performed inside the passenger compartment.
  6. The 1st Revision is carried out after 1.2 million km. It includes a thorough check 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[15] 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

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 Mannheim–Frankfurt railway 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 Munich–Augsburg line, 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, Hannover, Kassel, Fulda, Frankfurt, Mannheim, Karlsruhe and Freiburg to Basel (line 20) or continuing from Mannheim to Stuttgart (line 22)
  2. from Hamburg-Altona and Hamburg and from Bremen to Hannover (where portions are joined) and via Kassel, Fulda and Würzburg to Nuremberg and either via Ingolstadt or via Donauwörth and Augsburg to Munich (line 25)
  3. from Hamburg-Altona via Hamburg, Berlin-Spandau, Berlin, Berlin Südkreuz, Leipzig or Halle, Erfurt to Nuremberg and via Augsburg or Ingolstadt to Munich (lines 18, 28 and 29) or continuing from Erfurt via Fulda, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Ulm and Augsburg to Munich (line 11)
  4. from Berlin via Berlin-Spandau, Braunschweig, Kassel, Fulda, Frankfurt, Mannheim, Karlsruhe and Freiburg to Basel (line 12) or via Fulda and Frankfurt Süd to Frankfurt Airport (line 13)
  5. from Amsterdam or Dortmund via Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Cologne and Frankfurt Airport to Mannheim and either via Karlsruhe and Freiburg to Basel (line 43) or via Stuttgart, Ulm and Augsburg to Munich (line 42)
  6. from Essen via Cologne, Frankfurt, Würzburg, Nuremberg and Ingolstadt to Munich (line 41)

(Also applies to trains in the opposite directions, taken from 2019 network map)

East–west connections

Furthermore, the network has two main east–west thoroughfares:

  1. from Berlin Gesundbrunnen via Berlin, Hannover, Bielefeld to Hamm (where train portions are split) and continuing either via Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg and Düsseldorf to Cologne/Bonn Airport or via Hagen and Wuppertal to Cologne (10)
  2. from Dresden via Leipzig, Erfurt, Fulda, Frankfurt, Frankfurt Airport and Mainz to Wiesbaden (50)

(Also applies to trains in the opposite directions, taken from 2019 network map)

German branch lines

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

  1. from Berlin to Rostock (line 28, individual services)
  2. from Berlin to Stralsund (line 28, individual services)
  3. from Hamburg to Lübeck (line 25, individual services)
  4. from Hamburg to Kiel (lines 20, 22, 28 and 31, individual services)
  5. from Bremen to Oldenburg (lines 10, 22 and 25, individual services)
  6. from Leipzig via Hanover to Cologne (line 50, individual services)
  7. from Leipzig via Kassel to Dusseldorf (line 50, individual services)
  8. from Würzburg via Kassel to Essen (line 41, individual services)
  9. from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (lines 25, 28 and 41, individual services)
  10. from Nuremberg via Regensburg to Passau (line 91, every two hours)

(Also applies to trains in the opposite directions)

ICE Sprinter

The "ICE Sprinter" trains are trains with fewer stops 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. The service is usually half an hour faster than a standard ICE between the same cities.

A reservation was mandatory on the ICE Sprinter until December 2015.

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. This has been since replaced by a normal ICE connection taking only 3:21 hours.

Starting with the December 2017 schedule change, a new Sprinter line links Berlin main station and Munich main station in less than four hours.

As of July 2018, the individual ICE Sprinter lines are:

No.Departure stationIntermediate stopsDestinationTravel time (hh:mm)Time of day
Köln HbfFrankfurt AirportFrankfurt (Main) Hbf1:01
Frankfurt (Main) HbfFrankfurt AirportKöln Hbf1:06
Frankfurt (Main) HbfMannheim HbfStuttgart Hbf1:18Morning
Stuttgart HbfMannheim HbfFrankfurt (Main) Hbf1:17Morning
München HbfNuremberg Hbf, Erfurt Hbf, Halle (Saale) Hbf, Berlin SüdkreuzBerlin Hbf3:55Morning
Berlin HbfBerlin Südkreuz, Halle (Saale) Hbf, Erfurt Hbf, Nuremberg HbfMünchen Hbf4:02
1094Frankfurt HbfHannover HbfHamburg Hbf3:26Afternoon
1097Hamburg HbfHannover HbfFrankfurt Hbf3:20Morning
1098Köln HbfDüsseldorf Hbf, Duisburg Hbf, Essen HbfHamburg Hbf3:31Morning
Frankfurt (Main) HbfErfurt Hbf, Halle (Saale) Hbf, Berlin SüdkreuzBerlin Hbf3:56
Berlin HbfBerlin Südkreuz, Halle (Saale) Hbf, Erfurt HbfFrankfurt (Main) Hbf3:52

(Source: Deutsche Bahn AG[16])

Line segments abroad

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

  1. from Duisburg Hbf to Amsterdam Centraal (Netherlands)
  2. from Köln Hbf via Aachen Hbf and Liège-Guillemins to Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid (Belgium)
  3. from Saarbrücken Hbf to Paris Est (France)
  4. from Basel SBB to Interlaken Ost (Switzerland)
  5. from Basel SBB to Zürich HB (Switzerland)
  6. from München Hbf via Kufstein to Innsbruck Hbf (Austria)
  7. from München Hbf via Salzburg HbfLinz Hbf to Wien Westbf (Austria)
  8. 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. This service however has been replaced by a daily Intercity service since March 2010.[17]

The ÖBB in Austria also uses two ICE T trainsets (classified as ÖBB Class 4011) between Wien Westbahnhof, Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof and Bregenz (without stops in Germany), although they do not use tilting technology. Since December 2007 ÖBB and DB offer 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 service 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, ICE TD trains linked Berlin Hbf with Copenhagen and Aarhus via Hamburg Hbf. These services have been operated since December 2017 by Danish IC3 sets as EuroCity services.

In addition, ICE Trains to London via the Channel Tunnel are on the horizon, perhaps in 2020.[3][4] Unique safety and security requirements for the tunnel (such as airport-style checks at stations) as well as hold-ups in the production of the Velaro-D trains to be used on the route[18] have delayed these plans.

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.

Travel times

DB Intercity Express travel times between major stations1, 2
Amsterdam CentraalN/AN/A2h 37min2h 11min3h 55minN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Berlin Hbf 4N/AN/A4h 17min4h 14min3h 52min31h 42min3h 58min3N/A5h 04minN/AN/A
Brussels Midi/ZuidN/AN/A1h 50minN/A3h 05minN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Cologne/Köln Hbf 42h 37min4h 17min1h 50min21min1h 01min33h 31min34h 32minN/A2h 13min8h 52minN/A
Düsseldorf Hbf2h 11min4h 14minN/A21min1h 26min3h 06min4h 41minN/A2h 28minN/AN/A
Frankfurt (Main) Hbf 43h 55min3h 39min33h 05min1h 04min31h 26min3h 20min33h 09min3h 38min1h 18min36h 24min3h 53min
Hamburg Hbf 4N/A1h 42minN/A3h 35min53h 06min3h 20min35h 31minN/A4h 59minN/A7h 35min
München HbfN/A3h 55min3N/A4h 32min4h 44min3h 09min5h 31min5h 34min2h 12min3h 56minN/A
Paris Gare de l'EstN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A3h 38minN/A5h 34min3h 09minN/AN/A
Stuttgart HbfN/A5h 04minN/A2h 13min2h 28min1h 17min34h 59min2h 12min3h 09minN/AN/A
Vienna/Wien HbfN/AN/AN/A8h 50minN/A6h 21minN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Zürich HBN/A8h 39minN/AN/AN/A3h 53min7h 35minN/AN/AN/AN/A

1 German category 1 stations and comparable international destinations of 250.000 passengers per day or more
2 only direct connections shown; travel times as of the DB 2018 timetable
3 ICE Sprinter
4 additional or alternative ICE stops for Berlin at: Berlin Südkreuz, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen, Berlin-Spandau and Berlin Ostbf
for Cologne (Köln) at: Köln Messe/Deutz and Köln/Bonn Flughafen Fbf
for Frankfurt at: Frankfurt (Main) Flughafen Fbf
and Hamburg at: HH-Altona, HH Dammtor and HH-Harburg
5 IC Service


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

The ICE accident near Eschede that happened on 3 June 1998 was a severe railway accident. Trainset 51, travelling as ICE 884 Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen from Munich to Hamburg, derailed at 200 km/h (125 mph), killing 101 people and injuring 88. It remains the world's worst high-speed rail disaster.

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

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 fire caused the powerhead to be written off.

On 6 January 2004, ICE TD trainset 1106 caught 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 was 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 Mannheim–Frankfurt railway in April 2006.

On 28 April 2006, trainset 73 collided head-on with two BLS Re 465 locomotives at Thun in Switzerland. The driver 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 driving-car having been replaced with that from trainset 1106.

On 26 April 2008, trainset 11, travelling as ICE 885, collided with a herd 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 metres into the Landrückentunnel. 19 of the 130 passengers suffered mostly minor injuries, four of them needing hospital treatment.[19]

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 DB to recall its newest ICEs as a safety measure.[20] In October 2008, the company recalled its ICE-T trains after a further crack was found.[21]

On 17 April 2010, ICE 105 Amsterdam - Basel lost a door while travelling at high speed near Montabaur. The door slammed into the side of ICE 612 on the adjacent track. Six people travelling on ICE 612 were injured.[22]

On 17 August 2010, the ICE from Frankfurt to Paris hit a truck that had slid from an embankment on to the rail near Lambrecht. The first two carriages derailed and ten people were injured, one seriously.[23]

On 11 January 2011, trainset 4654 partly derailed during a side-on collision with a freight train near Zevenaar in the Netherlands.[24] There were no injuries.

On 2 May 2017, a trainset was derailed at Dortmund Hauptbahnhof. Two people were injured.[25]

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.


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

Scale models

Various ICE train scale models in several scales have been produced by Märklin, Fleischmann[26], Roco[27], Trix, Mehano, PIKO.[28] and Lima[29].

Possible future services


In January 2010, the European railway network was opened to a liberalisation intended to allow greater competition.[30] Both Air France-KLM and Deutsche Bahn have indicated their desire to take advantage of the new laws to run new services via the Channel Tunnel and the High Speed 1 route that terminates at London St Pancras.[31][32][33][34][35][36]

A test run of an ICE train through the Channel Tunnel took place on 19 October 2010.[37][38] Passenger-carrying ICE trains, however, will have to meet safety requirements in order to transit the Channel Tunnel. Although the requirement for splittable trains was lifted, concerns remain over the shorter length of ICE trainsets,[note 1][38] fire safety,[note 2][37] and the ICE's distributed power arrangements. There have been suggestions that French interests have advocated stringent enforcement to delay a competitor on the route.[39] Eurostar also recently chose Siemens Velaro-based rolling stock; there were concerns that Alstom (builders of the passenger trains that already use the Tunnel) and the French Government would take the matter to court.[38] In October 2010, the French transport minister suggested that the European Railway Agency (based in France) should arbitrate.[40] After safety rule changes which might permit the use of Siemens Velaro rolling stock, the French government dismissed their delegate to the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority, and brought in a replacement.[41][42]

In March 2011, a European Rail Agency report authorized trains with distributed traction for use in the Channel Tunnel. This means that the ICE class 407 trains which DB intends to use for its London services will be able to run through the tunnel. In February 2014, however, Deutsche Bahn announced further difficulties with launching the route, and reports make it seem unlikely that service will start anytime this decade.[43]

In March 2017 it was announced that Deutsche Bahn had revived plans for a London to Frankfurt train service with the service beginning as early as 2020. The service would take around 5 hours and could rival airlines and become the first competitor for Eurostar.[44]


A new ICE service from Munich to Zurich via Lindau is planned to start after 2020 when the electrification and modernization works in the 150 km section between Geltendorf and Lindau will be completed. The journey times will be then cut by 45min to less than 3 hours and 30 minutes and the line between Munich and Zurich is expected to be served by up to eight trains per day running at speeds up to 160 km/h.[45][46]


Yearmillion riders±% p.a.
1991 5.1    
1992 10.2+100.00%
1993 14.6+43.14%
1994 21.3+45.89%
1995 27.2+27.70%
2000 41.6+8.87%
2005 66.8+9.94%
2010 77.8+3.10%
2015 80+0.56%
2018 94+5.52%
Source: [47][48]

From its inception in July 1991 to 2006, ICE has transported roughly 550 million passengers, including 67 million in 2005.[49] The cumulative sum of passengers is roughly 1.25 billion in 2015.[48]


On 5 October 2006, the Deutsche Post AG released a series of stamps, among them a stamp picturing an ICE 3, at 55+25 euro cents.

In 2006, Lego modelled one of its train sets after the ICE.[50] A Railworks add on is available for Train Simulator 2018 accurately reflecting the original 1991 version of the ICE on German tracks (Siegen to Hagen).[51] There is also an addon utilising the Munich - Augsburg line using ICE 3 trainsets.[52] The ICE 3 can also be used in Career scenarios on the Mannheim-Karlsruhe route (including the extension to Frankfurt), and Cologne-Dusseldorf. The ICE T, ICE 2, and ICE TD are also available for purchase as separate vehicles.

See also


  1. ICE is too short to ensure sufficient proximity to tunnel emergency exits, but DB claims that a Tunnel safety exercise on 18 October 2010 had been "highly successful".
  2. The current Velaro ICE3MF sets would not meet the specialized fire safety requirements for the carriage of passengers through the Channel Tunnel, but the future Siemens Velaro ICE-3D sets (due to enter service in later 2010) include the necessary additional fire-proofing.


  1. "Mit dem ICE International nach Belgien" (in German). Deutsche Bahn. Archived from the original on 4 February 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  2. "Mit der Bahn in die Niederlande" (in German). Deutsche Bahn. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  3. Deutsche Bahn. Planned highspeed service from London to Amsterdam and Frankfurt Archived 10 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Germany's Frankfurt-London high-speed rail link put on ice". Reuters. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  5. "Premiernfahrt nach Paris" (in German). Deutsche Bahn. Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
  6. Die Bahn am Ball (in German). Deutsche Bahn. 2006. p. 96.
  7. "International breakthrough for Siemens high-speed train technology" (Press release). Siemens. 3 April 2001. Archived from the original on 16 October 2006. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  8. Новый международный успех высокоскоростных поездов "Сименс" (Press release) (in Russian). Siemens. 19 March 2006. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  9. Peter Jehle; René Naumann; Rainer Schach (2006). Transrapid und Rad-Schiene-Hochgeschwindigkeitsbahn: Ein gesamtheitlicher Systemvergleich (in German). Springer. p. 20. ISBN 3-540-28334-X.
  10. "Die neuen Wohlfahrtsmarken" (in German). Caritasverband Stuttgart e. V. Archived from the original on 4 February 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  11. Loppow, Bernd (31 May 1991). "Im Zug der Zeit" [In the train of the times]. Die Zeit (in German). Hamburg. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  12. Wolfgang Maaßen. "Frei von Rechten Dritter..." (in German). Bund Freischaffender Foto-Designer e. V. Archived from the original on 26 May 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2007.
  13. - ICE 2 der Baureihe 402 (German) retrieved 28 June 2015
  14. - ICE-TD retrieved 28 June 2015
  15. "Neues ICE-Instandhaltungswerk in Leipzig in Betrieb" (in German). mdr. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
  16. "ICE Sprinter, long-distance services". Deutsche Bahn AG. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  17. Messner, Wolfgang; Petersen, Michael (4 October 2012). "Gäubahn erfüllt Hoffnungen nicht". Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  18. Webb, Alex (8 December 2011). "Deutsche Bahn London Route Delayed to 2015 as Trains Held Up". Bloomberg. New York.
  19. Archived 1 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine, ICE-Unfall bei Fulda (map)
  20. Schmid, Barbara; Dohmen, Frank (11 July 2008). "Prosecutors Open Investigation into Derailed Train". Der Spiegel. Hamburg.
  21. "Deutsche Bahn to Recall Part of High-Speed Train Fleet". Deutsche Welle. 24 October 2008.
  22. "ICE verliert Tür bei voller Fahrt". Der Spiegel. 17 April 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  23. "Lambrecht – Charedi Man Amongst Rescued in Germany's High Speed Train Crash". Vos Iz Neias?. New York. 17 August 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  24. "2 trains collide in the Netherlands". Chicago Sun-Times. Associated Press. 11 January 2011. Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  25. "High speed train derails in Dortmund, disrupting travel for days". Stockholm: The Local Europe Ab. 2 May 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  26. (in German) Archived 10 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Fleischmann H0 range
  27. (in German) Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Roco ICE 1
  28., Piko ICE 3
  29., Lima ICE T
  30. "EU agrees to liberalise rail by 2010". Euractiv. Retrieved 11 May 2009.
  31. "Airlines plot Eurostar rival services". 10 September 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2008.
  32. Savage, Michael (11 September 2008). "Air France to launch 'quicker' train to Paris as Eurostar monopoly ends". London: The Independent. Retrieved 11 May 2009.
  33. "£5.2 billion state aid plan to make Eurostar profitable" (PDF). Railway Herald. Scunthorpe. 1 June 2009. p. 3. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  34. Murray, Dick (19 December 2007). "German rival for Eurostar". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  35. "Deutsche Bahn gets access to Channel Tunnel". Deutsche Welle. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2009.
  36. "Deutsche Bahn gets green light for Eurotunnel use". Asia One. Singapore. AFP. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2009.
  37. "Deutsche Bahn to run ICE3 to Britain this year". Railway Gazette International. London. 29 July 2010.
  38. "Chunnel trains safety dispute 'is moving to courts'". RailNews. Stevenage. 20 October 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  39. Wright, Robert (20 October 2010). "Alstom heads for court over Eurostar trains". Financial Times. London. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  40. "Bussereau wants Channel Tunnel dispute to go to arbitration". International Railway Journal. London. 30 October 2010. Archived from the original on 1 November 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  41. "Eurostar train procurement row heads for court". International Railway Journal. 30 October 2010. Archived from the original on 29 October 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  42. "French Tunnel Adviser Loses Job After Dispute Over German Trains, FT Says". Bloomberg. New York. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  43. Fender, Keith (19 February 2014). "DB puts London - Frankfurt plans on ice". International Railway Journal. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  44. Smith, Rebecca (2 March 2017). "Gearing up for Brexit: London-Frankfurt express trains could arrive by 2020".
  45. "Bahnstrecke München-Lindau soll bis 2020 modernisiert werden". 15 June 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  46. "München–Lindau–Grenze D/A". Deutsche Bahn. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  47. "KTX vs 新幹線 徹底比較". Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  48. "Press Pictures".
  49. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 January 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  50. "LEGO Store – Passenger Train". LEGO. Archived from the original on 26 May 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  51. "RailWorks 3 Intercity-Express Add-On". Railwords. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  52. "Train Simulator: Munich-Augsburg Route Add-On on Steam".
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.