High-speed rail in Germany

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The InterCityExpress (ICE) network map in Germany.
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High-speed lines for 300 km/h (186 mph)
High-speed lines for 250 km/h (155 mph) or more
Upgraded lines for 200-230 km/h (124-143 mph)
Conventional lines, often upgraded for 160 km/h (100 mph) ICE Network.png
The InterCityExpress (ICE) network map in Germany.
  High-speed lines for 300 km/h (186 mph)
  High-speed lines for 250 km/h (155 mph) or more
  Upgraded lines for 200–230 km/h (124–143 mph)
  Conventional lines, often upgraded for 160 km/h (100 mph)

Construction of the first high-speed rail in Germany began shortly after that of the French LGVs (lignes à grande vitesse, high-speed lines). However, legal battles caused significant delays, so that the German Intercity-Express (ICE) trains were deployed ten years after the TGV network was established.



The first regularly scheduled ICE trains ran on 2 June 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 ICE network is more tightly integrated with pre-existing lines and trains as a result of the different settlement structure in Germany,[ clarification needed ] which has almost twice the population density of France. ICE trains reached destinations in Austria and Switzerland soon after they entered service, taking advantage of the same voltage used in these countries. Starting in 2000, multisystem third-generation ICE trains entered the Netherlands and Belgium. The third generation of the ICE has a service speed of 330 km/h (205 mph) and has reached speeds up to 363 km/h (226 mph).

Admission of ICE trains onto French LGVs was applied for in 2001, and trial runs completed in 2005. Since June 2007, ICEs service Paris from Frankfurt and Saarbrücken via the LGV Est.

Unlike the Shinkansen in Japan, Germany has experienced a fatal accident on a high-speed service. In the Eschede train disaster of 1998, a first generation ICE experienced catastrophic wheel failure while travelling at 200 km/h near Eschede, following complaints of excessive vibration. Of 287 passengers aboard, 101 people died and 88 were injured in the resulting derailment, which was made worse by the train colliding with a road bridge and causing it to collapse. The accident was the result of faulty wheel design and, following the crash, all ICE wheels of that design were redesigned and replaced.

International operators

Thalys trains began running in Germany in 1997, from the Belgian HSL 3 to Aachen and Cologne using the Cologne–Aachen high-speed railway. TGV POS trains began running in Germany in 2007, to Karlsruhe and Stuttgart using the Mannheim–Stuttgart and Karlsruhe–Basel high-speed lines. Swiss SBB high-speed services using the New Pendolino from Frankfurt to Milan on the Karlsruhe–Basel line started in 2017. [1]


Germany has developed the Transrapid, a maglev train system. The Transrapid reaches speeds up to 550 km/h (340 mph). The Emsland test facility, with a total length of 31.5 km (19.6 mi), operated in until 2011 when it was closed and in 2012 its demolition was approved. [2] In China, Shanghai Maglev Train, a Transrapid technology based maglev built in collaboration with Siemens, Germany, has been operational since March 2004.

List of high-speed lines

Third generation ICE running on the Nuremberg-Erfurt high-speed railway Dunkeltalbrucke-2018-02.jpg
Third generation ICE running on the Nuremberg–Erfurt high-speed railway
Bartelsgrabentalbrucke of the Hanover-Wurzburg high-speed railway Bartelsgrabentalbruecke.jpg
Bartelsgrabentalbrücke of the Hanover–Würzburg high-speed railway

Upgraded line

Partially new line

Part of these routes are new constructions that run along or close to the existing, or previous, route:

Fully new line

Completely new construction projects:

Lines not yet completed

Lines planned

Travel times

DB Intercity Express travel times between major stations 1, 2
Deutsche Bahn AG-Logo.svg
Amsterdam Centraal N/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/Zuid N/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 Hbf 2h 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 Hbf N/A3h 55min3N/A4h 32min4h 44min3h 09min5h 31min5h 34min2h 12min3h 56minN/A
Paris Gare de l'Est N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A3h 38minN/A5h 34min3h 09minN/AN/A
Stuttgart Hbf N/A5h 04minN/A2h 13min2h 28min1h 17min34h 59min2h 12min3h 09minN/AN/A
Vienna/Wien Hbf N/AN/AN/A8h 50minN/A6h 21minN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Zürich HB N/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

Related Research Articles

Transrapid German developed high-speed monorail train

Transrapid is a German-developed high-speed monorail train using magnetic levitation. Planning for the Transrapid system started in 1969 with a test facility for the system in Emsland, Germany completed in 1987. In 1991 technical readiness for application was approved by the Deutsche Bundesbahn in cooperation with renowned universities.

Intercity Express German state-owned high-speed rail system

The Intercity Express 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. There are currently 259 trainsets in use. ICE trains are the highest category 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.

AIRail Service

AIRail Service is offered by Deutsche Bahn AG in cooperation with Lufthansa, American Airlines and Emirates. It is one example of several a dedicated air-rail alliances currently operating worldwide.

Maglev Train system using magnetic levitation

Maglev is a system of train transportation that uses two sets of magnets: one set to repel and push the train up off the track, and another set to move the elevated train ahead, taking advantage of the lack of friction. Along certain "medium-range" routes, maglev can compete favourably with high-speed rail and airplanes.

LGV Est French high-speed railway

The Ligne à Grande Vitesse Est européenne, typically shortened to LGV Est, is a French high-speed rail line that connects Vaires-sur-Marne and Vendenheim. The line halved the travel time between Paris and Strasbourg and provides fast services between Paris and the principal cities of Eastern France as well as Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland. The LGV Est is a segment of the Main Line for Europe project to connect Paris with Budapest with high-speed rail service.

Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed rail line bubba

The Cologne-Frankfurt high-speed railway is a 180-kilometre-long (110 mi) railway line in Germany, connecting the cities of Cologne and Frankfurt. Its route follows the Bundesautobahn 3 for the greater part, and currently the travel time is about 62 minutes. The line's grades of up to four percent require trains with a high power-to-weight ratio which is currently only met by third-generation Intercity-Express trains. It was constructed between 1995 and 2002 at a total cost of six billion Euro according to Deutsche Bahn.

Bonn Hauptbahnhof Railway station in Germany

Bonn Hauptbahnhof is a railway station located on the left bank of the Rhine along the Cologne–Mainz line. It is the principal station serving the city of Bonn. In addition to extensive rail service from Deutsche Bahn it acts as a hub for local bus, tram, and Stadtbahn services.

Hanover–Berlin high-speed railway

The Hanover–Berlin high-speed railway is a 258-kilometre (160 mi) high-speed rail line linking the German cities of Hanover and Berlin.

Mannheim–Stuttgart high-speed railway

The Mannheim–Stuttgart high-speed railway is a 99 km long railway line in Germany, connecting the cities of Mannheim and Stuttgart. The line was officially opened on 9 May 1991, and InterCityExpress service began on 2 June. The Hanover–Würzburg high-speed railway also opened at the same time. The line cost about DM 4.5 billion to build and has 15 tunnels and more than 90 bridges.

Mannheim–Frankfurt railway German railway line

Mannheim–Frankfurt railway is a German standard gauge, electrified railway line and runs in southern Hesse and northern Baden-Württemberg between Frankfurt and Mannheim. It is also called the Riedbahn. The line runs through an area called the Hessische Ried, hence the name. The term Riedbahn was originally used for the Darmstadt–Worms railway and the two lines share the central section between Groß-Gerau and Biblis.

Main Line for Europe

The Magistrale for Europe or Main line for Europe is a Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) project for the creation of a high-speed railway line between Paris and Bratislava, with a branch-off to Budapest. It was listed as TEN project No. 17 (Paris—Bratislava) by the European Commission in 1995, and is already under way.

ICE 3 German high speed train model

ICE 3, or Intercity-Express 3, is a family of high-speed electric multiple unit trains operated by Deutsche Bahn. It includes classes 403, 406 and 407, which are known as ICE 3, ICE 3M and New ICE 3 respectively. Four multisystem trains, known as ICE International, are owned by Nederlandse Spoorwegen. Based on the ICE 3M/F, Siemens developed its Siemens Velaro train family with versions for Spain, China, Russia, its home country Germany, as well as the United Kingdom and Turkey.

The Frankfurt–Mannheim high-speed railway is a planned German high-speed railway between Frankfurt am Main and Mannheim.

Kinzig Valley Railway (Hesse)

The Fulda–Hanau railway is a double track and electrified main line in the German state of Hesse. It runs south from Fulda along a ridge and then through the valley of the Kinzig to Hanau. As a result, it is also known as the Kinzig Valley Railway.

Weddel loop

The Weddel loop is a 21.1 km long German railway between Fallersleben and Weddel. It is single-track and electrified and forms part of route number 301 (Brunswick–Wolfsburg–Stendal). It connects the Hanover–Berlin high-speed line with the Hanover–Würzburg high-speed line for Intercity-Express trains running between Frankfurt and Berlin.

Vaihingen (Enz) station

Vaihingen (Enz) station is a long-distance and the regional station at an important railway junction in the town of Vaihingen an der Enz in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. It is classified by Deutsche Bahn as a category 3 station.

Intercity (Deutsche Bahn) Locomotive-hauled long-distance passenger rail service in Germany

Intercity is the second-highest train classification in Germany, after the ICE. Intercity services are loco-hauled express train services, usually over long-distances. There are Intercity routes throughout Germany, and routes generally operate with a two-hour frequency, with multiple routes giving a more frequent service on core routes. Intercity services are operated by the DB Fernverkehr sector of Deutsche Bahn.

Western Entrance to the Riedbahn

The Western Entrance to the Riedbahn is a 9.5 km-long line in the Germany state of Baden-Württemberg, which was opened in 1985. It gives direct access from the Mannheim–Frankfurt railway from the north to the western end of Mannheim Hauptbahnhof, allowing trains to the east and the south to continue without reversal.

Alleo is a railway company that operates high-speed rail passenger services between France and Germany. The company is a joint subsidiary of SNCF and Deutsche Bahn with headquarters in Strasbourg. Rhealys is a consortium of Deutsche Bahn (DB), French (SNCF), Luxembourg (CFL) and Swiss (SBB) railways preparing high-speed railways between Paris, Luxembourg, Switzerland and south west of Germany. The registered office is at Luxembourg.


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