The InterCityExpress or ICE (German pronunciation: IPA| [iːtseːˈeː] ) 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-known brands of Germany, with a brand awareness close to 100%, according to DB. [de icon cite web|url=|title=15 Jahre Hochgeschwindigkeitsverkehr|publisher=Deutsche Bahn AG|accessdate=2007-02-12]

The "ICE" name is also used for the vehicles used on the system, which were specifically developed for the system starting in the early 1980s. There are currently 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 both 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 Zürich, Switzerland and Vienna, Austria. ICE 3 trains also run to Liège and Brussels, Belgium [de icon cite web|url=|title=Mit dem ICE International nach Belgien|publisher=Deutsche Bahn AG|accessdate=2007-02-12] and at lower speeds to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. [de icon cite web|url=|title=Mit der Bahn in die Niederlande|publisher=Deutsche Bahn AG|accessdate=2007-02-12] On June 10, 2007, a new line between Paris and Frankfurt/Stuttgart was opened, jointly operated by ICE and TGV trains. While the ICE runs the Paris-to-Frankfurt branch, SNCF's TGV runs from Paris to Munich (via Stuttgart), with mixed crews on both trains. [de iconcite web|url=|publisher=Deutsche Bahn AG|accessdate=2007-12-06|title=Premiernfahrt nach Paris] [de icon cite book|title=Die Bahn am Ball|author=Staff writer|publisher=Deutsche Bahn AG|pages=p. 96|year=2006] 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). [cite web|url=|title=International breakthrough for Siemens high-speed train technology|publisher=Siemens AG|date=2001-04-03|accessdate=2007-02-12] 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). [ru icon cite web|url=|title=Новый международный успех высокоскоростных поездов «Сименс»|publisher=Siemens AG|date=2006-03-19|accessdate=2007-02-12]

History of the ICE

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, icon cite book|title=Transrapid und Rad-Schiene-Hochgeschwindigkeitsbahn: Ein gesamtheitlicher Systemvergleich|author=Peter Jehle, René Naumann, Rainer Schach|year=2006|publisher=Springer|pages=p. 20|isbn=354028334X] 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. [de icon cite web|url=|publisher=Caritasverband Stuttgart e. V.|title=Die neuen Wohlfahrtsmarken|accessdate=2007-02-12]

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 im Breisgau 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 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

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 Cologne-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 Hbf – Frankfurt 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.


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 for 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 200km/h. Starting at the end of 2007, it is planned to deploy the class 605 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 will also have 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.


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

:"See Eschede train disaster for main article"

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

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 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.

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. [ [ ICE-Unfall bei Fulda (; map)] ]


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. [de icon cite journal|journal=Elektrische Bahnen, Elektrotechnik im Verkehrswesen|year=2000|issue=11|issn=0013-5437|title=Dritte Generation ICE-Triebzüge für DB Reise&Touristik]


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. [de icon cite web|url=|publisher=Bund Freischaffender Foto-Designer e. V.|title=Frei von Rechten Dritter...|author=Wolfgang Maaßen|accessdate=2007-02-13] 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 have been refurbished in the mid-2000s, however, and are now following 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

(Source: Deutsche Bahn AG [cite web|url=|title=ICE Sprinter, long-distance services|publisher=Deutsche Bahn AG|accessdate=2007-02-13] )

Line segments abroad

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

# from Duisburg Hbf to Amsterdam CS (The Netherlands)
# from Köln Hbf via Aachen Hbf and Liège-Guillemins to Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid (Belgium, extension toward Oostende to connect to London ferry planned)
# from Saarbrücken Hbf via Baudrecourt to Paris Est (France)
# from Basel SBB to Interlaken Ost (Switzerland)
# from Basel SBB to Zürich HB (Switzerland)
# from Stuttgart Hbf via Schaffhausen to Zürich HB (Switzerland)
# from München Hbf via Kufstein to Innsbruck Hbf (Austria)
# from München Hbf via Salzburg HbfLinz Hbf to Wien Westbf (Austria)
# 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.

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:

* three services from Basel SBB to Interlaken Ost
* two services from Basel SBB to Zürich HB
* three service from Interlaken Ost to Basel SBB
* one service from Interlaken Ost to Bern
* two services from Zürich HB to Basel SBB
* one service from Bern to Interlaken Ost

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.

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 include this surcharge, but student travel cards ("OV-Studentenkaart") do not.


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.


*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. [ Video here]
* In 2006, Lego modelled one of its train sets after the ICE. [cite web|url=|title=LEGO Store - Passenger Train|publisher=LEGO|accessdate=2007-02-12]
* The ICE 3 is able to play the German National Anthem with its Frequency changers. This is an unofficial feature and needs modification of the software.Fact|date=July 2008


External links

* [] de icon – Private fansite
* [] – Pictures of ICE trains
* [] de icon – DB corporate web site celebrating 15 years of ICE traffic
* [] de icon – Coach alignment of all DB long-distance trains
* [ Long-distance network maps] - Network maps of both IC and ICE networks
* [ ICE network (2008)] – PDF map by Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways Inc.) Dead link|date=September 2008

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