Main > Reference > Germany > High Speed

Reference   Train Recognition Guide
   Super High Speed Main

   European Countries
    Czech Republic


  > Germany
       Gallery EMUs
       Gallery Ellocos
    > Germany High Speed
      Multiple Units Electric
      Multiple Units Diesel
      Locomotives Electric
      Locomotives Diesel
      Innotrans 2012
      Rails on North Sea
       Borkum Island


    United Kingdom

    North America

   Southern Pacific
    New Zealand

   Asian Countries





German High Speed Page
You might also be interested in the ICE/Velaro page while this page is being built.

Created for by John McKey and Ilkka Siissalo. Pictures by Ilkka Siissalo, Hannu Peltola, Siemens and John McKey.
Mozilla Firefox

Also in this section
DB depot view with classes 185 nr 243, 152 nr 030 and 189 number 056 and class 151 receiving trainorders in Duisburg, Germany
Germany RR Main Page is a great place to start browsing on the German railroading.

A drawing of the Velaro-D DB class 407 in use arriving at station
Germany High Speed Page brings you the present and the development of the German HS.

A drawing of the Velaro-D DB class 407 in use arriving at station
German High Speed at Glance
The German giant Siemens AG is a world leader in super high speed trains technology and Germany third, after China and France, in adaptation of the super high speed ICE trains to it's networks. High speed networks currently span between most of the Germany population centers, improving the productivity with ever shortening travel times. New improved trains and track is always being built as the usage volumes improve every year.

    The ICE and Velaro Theme Page...

Intercity Development Program Test Trains
First Generation of the ICE's
Deutsche Bahn classes 401 and 402 form the first generation Intercity Express trains for Germany occasionally visiting also the neighboring countries like Switzerland. The trains consist of the separate locomotive and coach sections much like their contemporary cousin TGV from France. The trains are in daily traffic all over the Germany and will be replaced by the new ICx train starting next decade.

German vintage SVT137 in Leipzig, Germany The Beginnings
The history of German high speed is fascinating story of the ever perfecting system. And false public beliefs like that the trains on conventional track can't stay on track over 200 km/h (125 mph)!
  - - - Discuss Page at -

To the top of the page

Building the High Speed for Germany

  Maglev or Traditional Rail System?

German vintage SVT137 in Leipzig, Germany
Transrapid Maglev mockup in Munich, Germany

Higher than normal speed in Germany is by no means novelty. From the very beginning of the railway era Germans were development minded, always perfecting the system, not just one or a few parts of the railway system.

When the railway system was built, speeds increased steadily, to a certain limit. It was believed, or at least an image was given to public, that traditional trains can not stay safely on rails in speeds much over 200 km/h (125 mph). This belief was kept until the TGVs in the neighboring country took off with their 275 km/h (170 mph) initial top speed.

But we only come here in 1980s. With the story on two competing technologies: magnetic levitating rail and normal rail.

Maglev or magnetic levitating train is a system where the passive train floats on the active magnetic fields of track, or trough actually. The trough keeps the vehicle lined up properly, while the magnets under the train in track concrete change their direction so that the vehicle above moves to desired direction at wished speed. Acceleration and deceleration here still take considerable time, making it possible to grasp the true benefits the maglev system in longer stretches. But when the acceleration can be made, 400 km/h (250 mph) and even 500 km/h (310 mph) seem to be well within reach.

There were several considerations when researching the maglev concept at the test track. In the end the costs of an unknown new rail system were seen prohibitive in Germany and the results of the German research were sold to Chinese who now have and operating system in Shanghai.

For Germany considerations were made for a track connecting Munich to its airport and connecting Berlin to Hamburg by Maglev. In Berlin - Hamburg scenario the problem was discussed to be the inadequate transportation capacity of the system. The costs of the Munich airport system skyrocketed and buried the once already decided stretch of track.

Normal rail
The story will continue in the next updates.

Unlike in France, Germany for long did not have any substantial amount of dedicated super high speed lines. So here the methods differed. While the French could right away grasp the benefits of super high speed travel, German's have been only slowly catching them up. But the way Germans do it it is happening inevitably, slowly but steadily. From German view point the high speed line building seems to be just one component in system perfecting, not a separate species of a railroad building.

The story will continue in the next updates.

ICE2 in Germany

To the top of the page

Deutsche Bahn Units

  Class 401 of Deutsche Bahn (ICE1)
ICE1 at Hamburg Altona station   On the left: ICE1 DB class 401 is stopping at Hamburg Altoona station.
Picture by Ilkka Siissalo.

Two German class 401 locomotives and 14 intermediate coaches form the ICE1 EMUs. These featured highest speed at 280 km/h (174 mph), at the brink of the super high speed class and closely matching the first generation French TGV's speed. Just like in France the locomotives are on both ends of the train, but here the ICE1 units can not be run in multiple. Also unlike the French articulated structure (for safety reasons) the design here was created so that trailers could easily be added or removed from the consist, so every car has it's own bogies.

The ICE1 trains have been very successful in their traffic, although the nonarticulated structure has also meant added danger to the passengers when accidents happed for example due to the failure of an axle. Therefore the axles of all rail vehicles in Germany are inspected on regular bases and defective axles changed before any real danger occurs.

The ICE1 train sets class 801 - 804  14 trailers have so far gone through one major refurbishing phase. It is planned that ICx EMUs will eventually replace all of the ICE1.

Technical details
-> Builders: several German companies
- AEG 
- Henschel
- Krauss-Maffei

   - Krupp
- Siemens
-> Units built: 60
-> Units in use: 59, one unit lost in accident  
-> Maximum design speed: 280 km/h (174 mph)
-> Power: 9600 kW (2 x 4800 kW) (13 052 Hp)
-> Electricity: 15 kV 16,7 Hz

-> Unit numbers: 101 - 120, 152 - 190
-> Loco unit numbers: 401 001 - 019, 051 - 090, 501 - 520, 552 - 590
-> Electrical systems: Asynchronous 

-> Unit length: 410,7 m (with 14 cars)
-> Height: 3,84 m, restaurant car 4,3 m
-> Width 3,02 m
-> Wind factor: 0,17 at front, very low!  
-> Trailers: 14,
- class 801: 1st class, 53 seats, 2 + 1 seating, toilet  
- class 801.8: 1st class, 41 seats, telephone booth, toilet
- class 802: 2nd class, 71 seats, 2 toilets
- class 802.9: 2nd class (car 7), ?? seats
- class 803: service car, 35 second class seats, 2 wheelchair places,
access free bathroom, baby chancing room, meeting room 
- class 804: restaurant car, places for 40 seated customers and
10 standing customers, the roof is higher on this car and has 
extra windows at the roof     

-> Couplers: Scharfenberg, including the connection within the train

Easy recognition guide

  • The ICE1 and ICE2 trains look remarkably similar, but where the ICE1 has loco on both ends the ICE2 has one loco and one driving trailer. 

  On the left above: ICE1 unit 014 stopped at the Hamburg Altoona with as sister unit on the other track. If you take a look at the streamlined locomotives exterior details, you can notice them closely matching those of the TGV locomotives. Picture by Ilkka Siissalo.
ICE1 at Hamburg Altona station

To the top of the page

  Class 401 of Deutsche Bahn (ICE1)
ICE1 at Hamburg Altona station

ICE1 DB class 401 is stopping at Hamburg Altoona station.

Picture by Ilkka Siissalo.


ICE1 at Hamburg Altona station ICE1 unit 014 stopped at the Hamburg Altoona with as sister unit on the other track.

Picture by Ilkka Siissalo.

To the top of the page

  Class 402 of Deutsche Bahn (ICE2)

ICE2 DB class 402 is stopping at Hamburg Altoona station.

Picture by Ilkka Siissalo.


ICE2 dashes through the countryside at Ingolstadt Germany

Picture by Sebastian Tertloft.
ICE2 in Berlin, Germany 2 ICE 2 units coupled together make their stop at the multilevel station made out of glass and concrete in Berlin, Germany.

Picture by John McKey.

To the top of the page

To the top of the page

Main > Reference > Germany > High Speed
© Railroad Reference 2004 - 2013   -   Created 6.1.2011 John McKey and Ilkka Siissalo, Updated 12.2.2013