ICE - Intercity Express (Germany)

ICE Intercity Express

The Intercity Express is commonly known as ICE is a system of high-speed trains predominantly running in Germany. It also serves some destinations in Austria, 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. There are currently 315 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.

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 and at lower speeds to Amsterdam. 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. 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.

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). 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).

ICE History

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. 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.

ICE Equipment

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. 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. However, ICE 1 trains were refurbished in the mid-2000s 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.
Type Production Number built vmax [km/h] In Service Status
InterCity Experimental (also ICE/V) 1983-1985 1 350 1985-2000 (measurement and test drives) retired
ICE 1 1989-1993 60 280 since 1990 59 in service
ICE 2 1995-1997 46 280 since 1996 44 in service
ICE S (also ICE R) 1996 1 280 / 330 since 1997 in service for measurement and test drives
ICE T 1996-2005 71 230 since 1999 70 in service (67 with DB, 3 with ÖBB)
DB Class 403 ("ICE 3") 1997-2006 50 330 since 2000 49 in service
DB Class 406 (ICE 3M / ICE 3MF) 1997-2006 17 330 since 2000 16 in service (13 with DB, 3 with NS)
Metropolitan 1998-1999 2 220 "ICE" branded: 2004-06/2005, 12/2005-2006, 2009-2021 retired
ICE TD 1998-2000 20 200 2001-2003, 2006-2017 retired from revenue service, 1 used for tests, 1 in reserve
DB Class 407 (Velaro D, also called ICE 3 by DB) 2009-2012 17 320 since 2013 all in service
ICE 4 since 2014 86(137 ordered) 250 / 265 since 2017 86 in service
DB class 408 (Velaro neo / ICE 3neo) 2020-2026(planned) 73 ordered 320 from 2022 (planned) under construction
ICE L   23 on order 230 from 2023 (planned) on order

ICE Overview

Locale: Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and France. Formerly Denmark.
Dates of Operation: 1985-present
Track Gauge: 1,435mm Standard gauge
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