High-speed rail in Germany

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ICE network: red for high-speed lines for 300 km/h (186 mph), orange for high-speed lines for 250 to 280  km/h (156 to 175 mph), blue for upgraded lines, 200 to 230 km/h (125 to 145 mph) and grey for other lines, maximum 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.

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.


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.[1] 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[edit]

Third generation ICE running on the Nuremberg–Erfurt high-speed railway
Bartelsgrabentalbrücke of the Hanover–Würzburg high-speed railway

Upgraded line[edit]

Partially new line[edit]

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

Fully new line[edit]

Completely new construction projects:

Lines not yet completed[edit]

Travel times[edit]

DB Intercity Express travel times between major stations1, 2
Deutsche Bahn AG-Logo.svg
Amsterdam Berlin Brussels Cologne Düsseldorf Frankfurt Hamburg Munich Paris Stuttgart Vienna Zürich
Amsterdam Centraal N/A N/A 2h 37min 2h 11min 3h 55min N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Berlin Hbf 4 N/A N/A 4h 17min 4h 14min 3h 52min3 1h 42min 3h 58min3 N/A 5h 04min N/A N/A
Brussels Midi/Zuid N/A N/A 1h 50min N/A 3h 05min N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Cologne/Köln Hbf 4 2h 37min 4h 17min 1h 50min 21min 1h 01min3 3h 31min3 4h 32min N/A 2h 13min 8h 52min N/A
Düsseldorf Hbf 2h 11min 4h 14min N/A 21min 1h 26min 3h 06min 4h 41min N/A 2h 28min N/A N/A
Frankfurt (Main) Hbf 4 3h 55min 3h 39min3 3h 05min 1h 04min3 1h 26min 3h 20min3 3h 09min 3h 38min 1h 18min3 6h 24min 3h 53min
Hamburg Hbf 4 N/A 1h 42min N/A 3h 35min5 3h 06min 3h 20min3 5h 31min N/A 4h 59min N/A 7h 35min
München Hbf N/A 3h 55min3 N/A 4h 32min 4h 44min 3h 09min 5h 31min 5h 34min 2h 12min 3h 56min N/A
Paris Gare de l'Est N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3h 38min N/A 5h 34min 3h 09min N/A N/A
Stuttgart Hbf N/A 5h 04min N/A 2h 13min 2h 28min 1h 17min3 4h 59min 2h 12min 3h 09min N/A N/A
Vienna/Wien Hbf N/A N/A N/A 8h 50min N/A 6h 21min N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Zürich HB N/A 8h 39min N/A N/A N/A 3h 53min 7h 35min N/A N/A N/A N/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


  1. ^ "Transrapid-Teststrecke vor dem Abriss, NDR (in German)".