ⓘ High-speed rail in Germany. Construction of the first high-speed rail in Germany began shortly after that of the French LGVs. However, legal battles caused sign ..


ⓘ High-speed rail in Germany

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


1. InterCityExpress

The first regularly scheduled ICE trains ran on 2 June 1991 from Hamburg-Altona via Hamburg Hbf – Hannover Hbf – Kassel-Wilhelmshohe – Fulda – Frankfurt Hbf – Mannheim Hbf and Stuttgart Hbf toward Munchen 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, 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 Saarbrucken 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.

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.


2. Transrapid

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. In China, Shanghai Maglev Train, a Transrapid technology based maglev built in collaboration with Siemens, Germany, has been operational since March 2004.


3. List of high-speed lines

Upgraded line

  • Cologne–Aachen high-speed railway upgraded line, 250 km/h

Partially new line

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

  • Hanover–Berlin high-speed railway
  • Nuremberg–Erfurt high-speed railway partially new line, 300 km/h
  • Nuremberg–Munich high-speed railway

Fully new line

Completely new construction projects:

  • Mannheim–Stuttgart high-speed railway new line, 280 km/h
  • Hanover–Wurzburg high-speed railway new line, 280 km/h
  • Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed rail line new line, 300 km/h
  • Erfurt–Leipzig/Halle high-speed railway new line, 300 km/h

Lines not yet completed

  • Wendlingen–Ulm high-speed railway
  • Karlsruhe–Basel high-speed railway
  • Stuttgart–Wendlingen high-speed railway
  • Hanau-Gelnhausen high-speed railway
  • Frankfurt–Mannheim high-speed railway
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