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DB Metropolitan train passing Dülmen station, March 2002
|Dates of operation||1999–2004|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
The Metropolitan (official spelling: MetropolitaN) was a premium passenger train service between the cities of Cologne and Hamburg in Germany. Meant as an alternative to air transport, the first-class-only trains were operated from 1 August 1999 until 11 December 2004 by Metropolitan Express Train GmbH (MET) based in Bad Homburg, a wholly owned subsidiary of the DB Fernverkehr division of Deutsche Bahn AG. Service was discontinued in December 2004 due to low usage and profitability; the custom made coaches are since then deployed in Intercity-Express (ICE) and Intercity traffic.
The Metropolitan was introduced at the 1999 ITB Berlin trade fair; two train formations were delivered on June 14 and July 12, 1999. The push–pull train units with control cars were hauled by specifically equipped DB Class 101 highpower locomotives. Each unit comprised seven specially manufactured railway coaches based on ICE 2 cars, with flexible gangway connections and a luxurious pearwood and leather interior manufactured by Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau. The Metropolitan's silver, black and orange corporate design clearly differentiated it from the Deutsche Bahn parent group.
Trains travelled at a maximum speed of 220 km/h (140 mph), surpassed only by ICE multiple units. From Monday to Friday the pairs ran four times daily in both directions, on Saturday once and on Sunday twice. They only called at the main stations of Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen and Hamburg, with a total travel time of 3 hours 29 minutes even undercutting parallel ICE connections. On each waggon there was a train attendant ensuring the safety and comfort of passengers aboard.
Though during the first weeks of service passenger traffic exceeded the expectations, already by the end of 1999 the occupancy rate remained below profitability level. Despite the promotions of special offers, the capacity utilization further fell due to the growing number of competing offers by low-cost airlines. With the timetable change in December 2004, the Metropolitan services were terminated and partly replaced by ICE Sprinter train connections. The trainsets with only a few years of utilisation were revarnished and integrated into the DB rolling stock. They currently run on the ICE 28 line between Berlin and Munich, easily recognisable by their lavish interior.
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