The Intercity Express (commonly known as ICE ()) is a system of high-speed trains predominantly running in Germany. It also serves some destinations in Austria, Denmark, France, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands mostly as part of cross border services. It is the highest service category of rail and the flagship train of the German state railway,
Deutsche Bahn The (; abbreviated as ''DB'' or ''DB AG'') is a German railway company. Headquartered in Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. It ...
. 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 , they are tailored for business travellers or long-distance commuters and are marketed by Deutsche Bahn as an alternative to flights. Apart from domestic use, the trains can also be seen in countries neighbouring Germany. There are, for example, ICE 1 lines to
Basel , french: link=no, Bâlois(e), it, Basilese , neighboring_municipalities= Allschwil (BL), Hégenheim (FR-68), Binningen, Switzerland, Binningen (BL), Birsfelden (BL), Bottmingen (BL), Huningue (FR-68), Münchenstein (BL), Muttenz (BL), Reinach ...
. ICE 3 trains also run to
Liège Liège ( , , ; wa, Lidje ; nl, Luik ; german: Lüttich ; lat, Leodium) is a major Wallonia, Walloon City status in Belgium, city and Municipalities in Belgium, municipality and the capital of the Belgium, Belgian province of Liège (province), ...
Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=no, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; nl, link=no, Brussel ...
and at lower speeds to
Amsterdam Amsterdam (, , ) is the Capital of the Netherlands, capital and Municipalities of the Netherlands, most populous city of the Netherlands with a population of 872,680 within the city proper, 1,558,755 in the City Region of Amsterdam, urban are ...
. 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 The Channel Tunnel (french: link=no, Le tunnel sous la Manche), also referred to as the Eurotunnel or Chunnel, is a railway tunnel that connects Folkestone (Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the h ...
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.Deutsche Bahn
Planned highspeed service from London to Amsterdam and Frankfurt
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. German and Austrian ICE T trains run to
Vienna en, Viennese , iso_code = AT-9 , registration_plate = Vehicle registration plates of Austria, W , postal_code_type = Postal code , postal_code = , timezone ...
. The Spanish railway operator
RENFE Renfe Operadora () is the state-owned company which operates freight and passenger trains on the , the and the networks of the Spanish national railway infrastructure company Adif (''Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias''—Rail ...
also employs trains based on the ICE 3 ( Siemens Velaro) called AVE Class 103 which are certified to run at speeds up to . Wider versions were ordered by China for the Beijing–Tianjin intercity railway link (China Railway CRH3, CRH 3) and by Russia for the Moscow–Saint Petersburg and Moscow–Nizhny Novgorod routes (Velaro RUS).


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 land speed record for railed vehicles, world speed record at 406.9 km/h (253 mph) on 1 May 1988. 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 station, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe from different directions.

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 railway station, Hamburg-Altona via Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, Hamburg Hbf–Hannover Hauptbahnhof, Hannover Hbf–Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe railway station, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe–Fulda railway station, Fulda–Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof, Frankfurt Hbf–Mannheim Hauptbahnhof, Mannheim Hbf and Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, Stuttgart Hbf toward München Hauptbahnhof, München Hbf at hourly intervals on the new ICE line 6. The Hanover-Würzburg high-speed rail line, Hanover-Würzburg line and the Mannheim-Stuttgart high-speed rail line, 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 Hauptbahnhof, Bremen Hbf–Hannover Hauptbahnhof, Hannover Hbf–Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe railway station, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe–Fulda railway station, Fulda–Würzburg Hauptbahnhof, Würzburg Hbf–Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof, Nürnberg Hbf–München Hauptbahnhof, München 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 (Deutsche Bahn), 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 high-speed rail line, Hanover-Berlin line and the former IC line 3 from Hamburg-Altona railway station, Hamburg-Altona via Hannover Hbf–Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe station, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe–Fulda railway station, Fulda–Frankfurt Hbf–Mannheim Hbf–Karlsruhe Hbf–Freiburg 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 Weight distribution, 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 Control car (rail), 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 (Westfalen) railway station, Hamm via either Dortmund Hbf–Essen Hbf–Duisburg Hbf–Düsseldorf Hbf or Hagen Hbf–Wuppertal Hbf–Solingen Hauptbahnhof, Solingen-Ohligs. In late 1998, the Hanover–Berlin high-speed railway was opened as the third high-speed rail, 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 International Union of Railways, 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 (rail), pantograph to be able to run on the different Swiss overhead lines, overhead wire geometry. All ICE 1 and ICE 2 trains are single-voltage 15 kV AC railway electrification, 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 entire European standard gauge network, with the sole exception being the UK's domestic railway network. Unlike their predecessors, the ICE 3 units are built not as trains with separate passenger and power cars, 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 International Union of Railways, UIC standard. Two different classes were developed: the DBAG Class 403, Class 403 (domestic ICE 3) and the DBAG Class 406, Class 406 (ICE 3M), the M standing for ''Mehrsystem'' (multi-system locomotive, multi-system). The trains were labelled and marketed as the Siemens Velaro, Velaro by their manufacturer, Siemens. Just like the ICE 2, the ICE 3 and the ICE 3M were developed as short trains (when compared to an ICE 1), and are able to travel in a system where individual units run 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 rail line, 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 Euro, € 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 . Since only 3rd generation ICE trains can travel at this speed, the ICE line 41, formerly running from Essen Hbf via Duisburg Hbf–Frankfurt (Main) Südbahnhof, Frankfurt Südbf to Nürnberg Hbf, was extended over the Nuremberg-Ingolstadt high-speed rail line and today the service run is Oberhausen Hbf–Duisburg Hbf–Frankfurt Hbf–Nürnberg Hbf–Ingolstadt Hbf–München Hbf. The ICE 3 runs at speeds up to on the LGV Est railway Strasbourg–Paris in France.+ The latest generation ICE 3, DB Class 407, 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 in 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 train, 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. 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).


Deutsche Bahn ordered 20 units of ICE-T with diesel engines in 2001, called Class 605 ICE-TD. The ICE-TD was intended for certain routes without electric overhead cables such as Dresden-Munich and Munich-Zurich lines. However, the Class 605 trains (ICE-TD) experienced many technical issues and unanticipated escalation in operating cost due to the diesel fuel being fully taxed in Germany. They were taken off the revenue service shortly after the delivery. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the ICE-TD trains were pressed temporarily into the supplementary service for transporting the fans between cities in Germany. At the end of 2007, ICE-TD trains were put into revenue service for the lines between Hamburg and Copenhagen as well as Hamburg and Aarhus. A large part of Danish railway network hadn't been electrified so DSB_(railway_company), DSB (Danish State Railways) used the diesel-powered trains. When DSB ordered the new IC4 train sets, the company did not anticipate the long delay with the delivery and the technical issues with the train sets. To compensate for the shortage of available trains, DSB leased the ICE-TD while the delivery and technical issues with IC4 were being addressed. The operating cost was much lower due to the lower fuel tax in Denmark. After the issues with IC4 were resolved, ICE-TD fleet was removed from the revenue service and stored. Deutsche Bahn has officially retired the entire ICE TD fleet in 2018.


ICE livery

A notable characteristic of the ICE trains is their colour design, which has been registered by the DB as an Geschmacksmuster, aesthetic model and hence is protected as intellectual property. The trains are painted in ''Pale Grey'' (RAL (colour space system), 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 Deutsche Bahn, 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

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.

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 Bildschirmtext, 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 toilet for disabled passengers 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: # 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. Safety tests are also conducted. These include checking the pantograph (rail), 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. # 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. # 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. # Once the train has reached 240,000 kilometres, the ''Inspektionsstufe 2'' mandates a check of the electric motors, the bearing (mechanical), bearings and the driveshafts of the bogies and the couplers. This inspection is usually carried out in two modules taking eight hours each. # 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. # 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. # 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 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 minimize maintenance time.

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 railway, Munich–Augsburg line, carrying about 300 trains per day.

North–south connections

The network's main backbone consists of six north–south lines: # from Hamburg-Altona station, Hamburg-Altona via Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, Hamburg, Hannover Hauptbahnhof, Hannover, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe station, Kassel, Fulda railway station, Fulda, Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof, Frankfurt, Mannheim Hauptbahnhof, Mannheim, Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof, Karlsruhe and Freiburg Hauptbahnhof, Freiburg to Basel SBB railway station, Basel (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#20, line 20) or continuing from Mannheim to Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, Stuttgart (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#22, line 22) # from Hamburg-Altona and Hamburg and from Bremen Hauptbahnhof, Bremen to Hannover Hauptbahnhof, Hannover (where portions are joined) and via Kassel, Fulda and Würzburg Hauptbahnhof, Würzburg to Nuremberg Hauptbahnhof, Nuremberg and either via Ingolstadt Hauptbahnhof, Ingolstadt or via Donauwörth station, Donauwörth and Augsburg Hauptbahnhof, Augsburg to München Hauptbahnhof, Munich (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#25, line 25) # from Hamburg-Altona via Hamburg, Berlin-Spandau station, Berlin-Spandau, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin, Berlin Südkreuz, Leipzig Hauptbahnhof, Leipzig or Halle (Saale) Hauptbahnhof, Halle, Erfurt Hauptbahnhof, Erfurt to Nuremberg and via Augsburg or Ingolstadt to Munich (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#18, lines 18, List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#28, 28 and List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#29, 29) or continuing from Erfurt via Fulda, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Ulm Hauptbahnhof, Ulm and Augsburg to Munich (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#11, line 11) # from Berlin via Berlin-Spandau railway station, Berlin-Spandau, Braunschweig Hauptbahnhof, Braunschweig, Kassel, Fulda, Frankfurt, Mannheim, Karlsruhe and Freiburg to Basel (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#12, line 12) or via Fulda and Frankfurt (Main) Süd station, Frankfurt Süd to Frankfurt Airport long-distance station, Frankfurt Airport (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#13, line 13) # from Amsterdam Centraal station, Amsterdam or Dortmund Hauptbahnhof, Dortmund via Duisburg Hauptbahnhof, Duisburg, Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof, Düsseldorf, Köln Hauptbahnhof, Cologne and Frankfurt Airport to Mannheim and either via Karlsruhe and Freiburg to Basel (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#43, line 43) or via Stuttgart, Ulm and Augsburg to Munich (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#42, line 42) # from Essen via Cologne, Frankfurt, Würzburg, Nuremberg and Ingolstadt to Munich (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#41, 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: # from Berlin-Gesundbrunnen station, Berlin Gesundbrunnen via Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin, Hannover Hauptbahnhof, Hannover, Bielefeld Hauptbahnhof, Bielefeld to Hamm (Westfalen) railway station, Hamm (where train portions are split) and continuing either via Dortmund Hauptbahnhof, Dortmund, Essen Hauptbahnhof, Essen, Duisburg Hauptbahnhof, Duisburg and Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof, Düsseldorf to Cologne/Bonn Airport station, Cologne/Bonn Airport or via Hagen Hauptbahnhof, Hagen and Wuppertal Hauptbahnhof, Wuppertal to Köln Hauptbahnhof, Cologne (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#10, 10) # from Dresden Hauptbahnhof, Dresden via Leipzig Hauptbahnhof, Leipzig, Erfurt Hauptbahnhof, Erfurt, Fulda station, Fulda, Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof, Frankfurt, Frankfurt Airport long-distance station, Frankfurt Airport and Mainz Hauptbahnhof, Mainz to Wiesbaden Hauptbahnhof, Wiesbaden (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#50, 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: # from Berlin to Rostock Hauptbahnhof, Rostock (line 28, individual services) # from Berlin to Stralsund Hauptbahnhof, Stralsund (line 28, individual services) # from Hamburg to Lübeck Hauptbahnhof, Lübeck (line 25, individual services) # from Hamburg to Kiel Hauptbahnhof, Kiel (lines 20, 22, 28 and 31, individual services) # from Bremen to Oldenburg (Oldenburg) Hauptbahnhof, Oldenburg (lines 10, 22 and 25, individual services) # from Leipzig via Hanover to Cologne (line 50, individual services) # from Leipzig via Kassel to Düsseldorf (line 50, individual services) # from Würzburg via Kassel to Essen (line 41, individual services) # from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen station, Garmisch-Partenkirchen (lines 25, 28 and 41, individual services) # from Nuremberg via Regensburg Hauptbahnhof, Regensburg to Passau Hauptbahnhof, Passau (List of Intercity-Express lines in Germany#91, 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 (train), 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. , the individual ICE Sprinter lines are: (Source: Deutsche Bahn AG)

Line segments abroad

Some ICE trains also run on services abroad – sometimes diverting from their original lines. # from Duisburg Hbf to Amsterdam Centraal (Netherlands) # from Köln Hbf via Aachen Hbf and Liège-Guillemins to Bruxelles-Midi / Brussel-Zuid railway station, Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid (Belgium) # from Saarbrücken Hbf to Gare de l'Est, Paris Est (France) # from Basel SBB to Interlaken Ost railway station, Interlaken Ost (Switzerland) # from Basel SBB to Zürich HB (Switzerland) # from München Hbf via Kufstein to Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof, Innsbruck Hbf (Austria) # from München Hbf via Salzburg Hbf–Linz Hbf to Wien Westbahnhof, Wien Westbf (Austria) # from Passau Hbf via Linz Hbf to Wien Westbahnhof, 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 (Deutsche Bahn), Intercity service since March 2010. The Österreichische Bundesbahnen, 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 Westbahnhof, Wien Westbf and Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, Frankfurt Hbf. Since June 2007 ICE 3M trains have been running between Frankfurt Hbf and Gare de l'Est, Paris Est via Saarbrücken and Kaiserslautern. Together with the TGV-operated service between Gare de l'Est, Paris Est, Stuttgart Hbf and München Hbf, this ICE line is part of the "LGV Est, LGV Est européenne", also called "Paris-Ostfrankreich-Süddeutschland" (or SNCF TGV POS, 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 in Germany, EuroCity services. In addition, ICE Trains to London via the
Channel Tunnel The Channel Tunnel (french: link=no, Le tunnel sous la Manche), also referred to as the Eurotunnel or Chunnel, is a railway tunnel that connects Folkestone (Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the h ...
are on the horizon, perhaps in 2020. 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 have delayed these plans.

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 railway station, Interlaken Ost * two services from Basel SBB to Zürich HB * three service from Interlaken Ost railway station, Interlaken Ost to Basel SBB * one service from Interlaken Ost railway station, Interlaken Ost to Bern railway station, Bern * two services from Zürich HB to Basel SBB * one service from Bern railway station, Bern to Interlaken Ost railway station, 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.

Travel times


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 Lists of rail accidents, 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 railroad switch, 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, Germany, 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 Efringen-Kirchen, 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 SBB-CFF-FFS Re 460, 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, North Rhine-Westphalia, Brühl after being blown down by Cyclone Emma (2008), 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. 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. In October 2008, the company recalled its ICE-T trains after a further crack was found. 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. 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, Rhineland-Palatinate, Lambrecht. The first two carriages derailed and ten people were injured, one seriously. On 11 January 2011, trainset 4654 partly derailed during a side-on collision with a freight train near Zevenaar in the Netherlands. There were no injuries. On 2 May 2017, a trainset was derailed at Dortmund Hauptbahnhof. Two people were injured.

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 Intercity (Deutsche Bahn), IC or EuroCity, 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 , Interlaken and Chur, as well as those on the intra-Swiss ICE trains (see above) can be used without any surcharge.

The Netherlands

On ICE trains between
Amsterdam Amsterdam (, , ) is the Capital of the Netherlands, capital and Municipalities of the Netherlands, most populous city of the Netherlands with a population of 872,680 within the city proper, 1,558,755 in the City Region of Amsterdam, urban are ...
and Cologne, passengers travelling nationally within the Netherlands (between Amsterdam Centraal station, Amsterdam Centraal and Arnhem Centraal railway station, Arnhem Centraal) can use the national OV-chipkaart scheme but have to purchase a supplement. Passengers travelling into/from Germany have to buy an international ticket.

Scale models

Various ICE train scale models in several scales have been produced by Märklin, Fleischmann (model railroads), Fleischmann, Roco, Trix (company), Trix, Mehano, PIKO. and Lima.

Possible future services


In January 2010, the European railway network was opened to a liberalisation intended to allow greater competition. Both Air France-KLM and
Deutsche Bahn The (; abbreviated as ''DB'' or ''DB AG'') is a German railway company. Headquartered in Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. It ...
have indicated their desire to take advantage of the new laws to run new services via the
Channel Tunnel The Channel Tunnel (french: link=no, Le tunnel sous la Manche), also referred to as the Eurotunnel or Chunnel, is a railway tunnel that connects Folkestone (Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the h ...
and the High Speed 1 route that terminates at London St Pancras International. A test run of an ICE train through the Channel Tunnel took place on 19 October 2010. 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,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". fire safety,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. 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. 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. In October 2010, the French transport minister suggested that the European Railway Agency (based in France) should arbitrate. 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. 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. In June 2018, Deutsche Bahn announced that it was shelving plans to revive a potential London-Frankfurt ICE connection. The service would take around 5 hours and could rival airlines and become the first competitor for Eurostar.


A new ICE service from Munich to via Lindau (the Allgäu Railway (Bavaria), Allgäu Railway of Bavaria) 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 45 min 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. As of July 2020, the works are scheduled to be effectful by December 2020.


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


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 Lego train, train sets after the ICE. 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). There is also an addon utilising the Munich - Augsburg line using ICE 3 trainsets. The ICE 3 can also be used in Career scenarios on the Mannheim-Karlsruhe route (including the extension to Frankfurt), and Cologne-Düsseldorf. The ICE T, ICE 2, and ICE TD are also available for purchase as separate vehicles.

See also

* List of Intercity-Express lines * List of Intercity-Express railway stations * List of high-speed rail services * Train categories in Europe * High-speed rail in Germany * Acela



External links

Network maps
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Deutsche Bahn The (; abbreviated as ''DB'' or ''DB AG'') is a German railway company. Headquartered in Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. It ...

The ICE Pages
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