Trans-Europe Express (song)

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"Trans-Europe Express"
Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express single cover art.jpeg
Single by Kraftwerk
from the album Trans-Europe Express
  • "Franz Schubert"
  • "Metal on Metal"
Released 1977
Recorded 1976 at Kling Klang Studio (Düsseldorf, Germany)
Genre Electronic
  • 6:53 (album version)
  • 3:56 (single version)
Kraftwerk singles chronology
"Trans-Europe Express"
"Showroom Dummies"
"Trans-Europe Express"
"Showroom Dummies"

"Trans-Europe Express" is a song by German electronic music band Kraftwerk. The song was released as the lead single from their sixth studio album of the same name in 1977. The music was written by Ralf Hütter, and the lyrics by Hütter and Emil Schult.[1] The track is ostensibly about the Trans Europ Express rail system, with technology and transport both being common themes in Kraftwerk's oeuvre.

The track has since found further influence, both in hip-hop by its interpolation by Afrika Bambaata (via Arthur Baker) on "Planet Rock", which has been sampled and remixed by many different artists such as Paul Oakenfold for Swordfish's soundtrack, and by modern experimental bands such as the electroclash bands of the early 2000s.[2]


"Trans-Europe Express" was released as a single in 1977,[3] and charted in the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at number 67.[4] Trans-Europe Express as a single did not chart in the UK although reached number one in France.[5]

Music and lyrical references[edit]

Allmusic described the musical elements of the suite as having a haunting theme with "deadpan chanting of the title phrase" which is "slowly layered over that rhythmic base in much the same way that the earlier "Autobahn" was constructed".[2] The song's lyrics reference the album Station to Station and meeting with musicians Iggy Pop and David Bowie.[6] Hütter and Schneider had previously met up with Bowie in Germany and were flattered with the attention they received from him.[7] Ralf Hütter was interested in Bowie's work as he had been working with Iggy Pop, who was the former lead singer of the Stooges; one of Hütter's favorite groups.[6]

German language version[edit]

The song was also recorded and released in a German language version under the title Trans Europa Express both as a single in edited form and on the German language version of the album of the same name. The lyrics are a literal translation of the English language version although it is not known which came first.

The Mix version[edit]

A new version of Trans Europe Express was included on the 1991 album The Mix. This version is considerably shorter than the original and omits the verse about David Bowie and Iggy Pop. It also segues directly into the tracks Abzug and Metal on Metal, although the fusion with the former makes Trans Europe Express closer to the original in duration. A German language version of the track was also included on the German release of The Mix.

Live version[edit]

The track has often featured in Kraftwerk's live sets and a live version of the Trans Europe Express / Abzug / Metal on Metal suite recorded at Riga Olimpiska Hall in 2004 is included on the group's live album Minimum-Maximum.

Track listing[edit]

7" vinyl[edit]

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Trans-Europe Express" 3:56
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Franz Schubert" 3:25

12" vinyl[edit]

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Trans-Europe Express" 6:35
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Metal on Metal" 6:31

CD single[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Trans-Europe Express (album version)" 6:43
2. "Trans-Europe Express (single version)" 3:55
3. "Les Mannequins" 6:04
4. "Showroom Dummies" 6:02


Chart (1977) Peak
Canadian Singles Chart[8] 96
French Singles Chart[9] 26
Italian Singles Chart[10] 34
Swedish Singles Chart[11] 15
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[12] 67


  1. ^ Trans-Europe Express (Digital Remaster) (liner notes). Kraftwerk. Mute Records. 2009. CDSTUMM305. 
  2. ^ a b Mason, Stewart. "Song review: Trans-Europe Express". Allmusic. Retrieved October 21, 2009. 
  3. ^ Strong, 1998. p.454
  4. ^ "Trans-Europe Express: Charts & Awards: Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved October 22, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Song artist 715 - Kraftwerk". Retrieved 2016-07-26. 
  6. ^ a b Bussy, 2004. p.85
  7. ^ Bussy, 2004. p.84
  8. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  9. ^ "Tout les Titres par Artiste: K (select Kraftwerk on the list)". InfoDisc. Archived from the original on 2014-10-07. Retrieved 2014-10-20. 
  10. ^ "Indice per Interprete: K". (in Italian). Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  11. ^ Steffen Hung. "Discography Kraftwerk". Retrieved 2015-11-04. 
  12. ^ "Kraftwerk - Chart history". Billboard. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2015-11-04.