Trans Europ Express

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Trans Europe Express
Service typeInternational network of express trains
LocaleWestern Europe
First service2 June 1957
Last service28 May 1995[1]
SuccessorVarious, including EuroCity, InterCity, TGV, Thalys and other systems.
Former operator(s)The national railways of several European countries
On-board services
Class(es)1957–1991: First class only
1993–1995 (Paris–Brussels only): First and second class
ElectrificationVarious different voltages, depending on country

The Trans Europ Express, or Trans-Europe Express (TEE), was an international first-class railway service in western and central Europe that was founded in 1957 and ceased in 1995. At the height of its operations, in 1974, the TEE network comprised 45 trains, connecting 130 different cities,[1] from Spain in the west to Austria in the east, and from Denmark to Southern Italy.


The first services commenced on 2 June 1957 following an idea of F.Q. den Hollander, then president-director of the Dutch national railway company (NS).[1][2] TEE was a network jointly operated by the railways of West Germany (DB), France (SNCF), Switzerland (SBB-CFF-FFS), Italy (FS) and the Netherlands. Although some trains passed through Belgium from the beginning, the Belgian national railway company (NMBS/SNCB) joined the program only in 1964. Luxembourg (CFL) also joined at a later date.

Swiss TEE trainset capable of operating at four different voltages

The idea was for a network of fast and comfortable transnational trains that would be attractive to businessmen and other regular travellers.[3] All trains were first-class-only and required payment of a special supplement over the normal first-class ticket price, the amount of which depended on the distance covered.[3] Where possible, TEE trains' schedules were timed to allow a business traveller to make a round trip (return journey) within a single day and also have time for business activity at the destination.[3] Each train was named, and all were expresses, stopping only at major cities. Some of the named trains had already existed for some years before creation of the TEE network and were simply newly designated as Trans-Europe Expresses in 1957 or later. For example, the Settebello had been in operation since 1953[3] and the Rheingold since 1951 (as a revival of a pre-World War II train). The network was launched in 1957 with trains serving 13 different routes.[1]

Rolling stock[edit]

German DB Class VT 11.5 diesel trainset that was used in TEE service until 1972 at München Hauptbahnhof in 1970

Initially, the system was a completely diesel network. Because of the many different kinds of electrical specifications (voltages and current types – alternating current and direct current) used in the different countries it was thought at that time that use of diesel-hauled trains or diesel multiple-unit trainsets would greatly speed up border crossing. Moreover, at that time many border crossing sections were not yet electrified. The German DB built the streamlined DB Class VT 11.5, while the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and the Dutch NS developed the RAm / DE, both diesel trains.

An SNCF CC 40100 with the Brussels–Paris L'Oiseau Bleu TEE in 1979. By the 1970s most TEEs were locomotive-hauled, rather than self-propelled trainsets.

However, the creation of the international TEE network provided impetus for the development of special electric trainsets and electric locomotives, capable of operating at two or more different voltages.[1] The DB used the 160 km/h E 10.12 and the 200 km/h DB Class 103, among other types. The SBB developed its RAe TEE II electric trainset, which was designed for four different railway electrification systems, and this type entered service in 1961. Belgian National Railways introduced its Type 150 locomotives (now called Class 15) in 1962, capable of handling three different voltages, followed by the four-voltage Type 160 (Class 16) in 1966 and Class 18 in 1973.[1] Meanwhile, France's SNCF also developed and introduced ten quadruple-voltage locomotives, its Class CC 40100, between 1964 and 1970.[1]

By 1975, all but two (L'Arbalète and Bavaria) of the 43 TEE trains were electrically powered, and most were locomotive-hauled.[4]

Modification of service[edit]

Originally the idea was to promote only international routes as TEE routes. This idea was abandoned in 1965 with the introduction of the French Le Mistral and the German Blauer Enzian. Later, TEE trains serving single countries were also introduced on other routes in France and Germany as well as in Italy, but most TEE routes continued to be international.


The TEE network at its maximum extent (1974)

The network grew in the course of the years, adding three more countries: Spain (Renfe), Denmark (DSB) and Austria (ÖBB). The system reached furthest in 1974.[2] However, of these three only Renfe became a TEE member; the other two countries had TEEs running through them but the rail administrations were never members. In the late 1970s, the TEE network comprised 39 different named trains, serving 31 routes.[3] A few routes had more than one TEE train concurrently; for example, the Paris–Brussels route had four TEEs, running at different times of the day.

Contraction and end[edit]

From the late 1970s onward, gradually more and more Trans-Europe Express trains were replaced by other trains giving a similar kind of service but also carrying 2nd class. Business travellers used air travel more and more. In 1979 DB completely restructured the network with the coming of the new national InterCity services, resulting in successively fewer TEE services and more InterCity services in the course of time. The introduction of the TGV service in France in 1981, and its subsequent expansion, along with expansion of high-speed rail lines in other European countries led to still more TEEs' being replaced by domestic high-speed trains.

After 1984 most services were abandoned, leaving only some national services in (mostly) Italy and France and very few international services. Most trains were replaced by a new international intercity network with the name EuroCity which provides both 1st and 2nd class service. The EuroCity network began operating on 31 May 1987, and with effect from that date the last remaining international Trans-Europe Express trains were redesignated or withdrawn,[5] except the Gottardo (reclassified as EuroCity in September 1988),[6] but in name, the TEE designation continued to be used for a few domestic trains operating entirely within France until 1 June 1991.

TEE in the DB Museum

In September 1993 certain former TEE trains operating non-stop journeys between Brussels and Paris (or vice versa), which had been converted to EuroCity and offered both first- and second-class coaches, were rebranded as Trans-Europe Expresses, but remaining two-class trains. This was during a transition of Paris–Brussels express services to a new TGV alignment, and initially included the trains Brabant, Île de France, Rubens and Watteau, all four serving the route in both directions.[7] However, by 1995 the only TEE-branded trains remaining were the northbound Île de France (train 85) and southbound Watteau (train 88), the opposing-direction trains carrying the same names having already been converted to TGV stock (and designation), and these last two TEEs were replaced by TGV trains with effect from 29 May 1995, once again ending the formal use of the Trans-Europ Express name.[1] These few Paris–Brussels (or vice versa) expresses, operated 1993–1995, were the only TEE-designated trains ever to carry second-class carriages (they were in effect EuroCity services). A few trains continued to utilise TEE branded coaches until 1 June 1996, but the trains themselves were no longer classified as TEEs.[1]

Proposed new TEE network (2020s)[edit]

In September 2020, Germany made proposals for a new Trans Europe Express TEE 2.0 network.[8][9] Proposed routes in the short term include:

  • Amsterdam – Paris – Barcelona
  • Brussels – Berlin – Warsaw
  • Amsterdam – Frankfurt – Zürich – Rome
  • Barcelona – Frankfurt – Berlin

Proposed daytime high-speed TEE 2.0 routes following the completion of new lines[10] include:

  • Stockholm – Hamburg – Paris
  • Stockholm – Berlin – Munich
  • Rome – Verona – Munich – Berlin
  • Paris – Munich – Budapest

There are also proposals for night train networks proposed in the short-term which are remarkably similar to Deutsche Bahn's former City Night Line network, which DB discontinued in 2016. Most of the routes in the short-term network are currently operated by Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) as part of its Nightjet network although a proposed Frankfurt – Lyon – Barcelona service would offer a direct rail services that has not been possible for many decades. Overnight routes proposed in the longer term include two routes from Stockholm, one serving both Amsterdam and Paris, the other running via Prague to Vienna and Budapest.

In May 2021, TRANSPORT ministers from multiple European Union (EU) member states have signed a letter of intent to create the Trans-Europe Express (TEE) 2.0 network first announced in September 2020 during the German presidency of the EU.[11] The Agreement includes the development of a regular interval timetable. Member states will also identify operators interested in taking part.

The signing took place during a conference organised by German federal transport minister, Mr Andreas Scheuer, on 17 May, and includes a number of pledges which expand the initial TEE 2.0 concept.[12]

The agreement foresees the development of a regular interval timetable on a pan-European basis to provide an alternative to short-haul flights and car journeys. The original German proposal for the TEE 2.0 concept assumes:

  • TEE 2.0 services connect at least three EU member states or two member states over at least 600 km
  • TEE 2.0 trains operate at a minimum of 160 km/h on a substantial part of the route or an average speed of more than 100 km/h on the entire route, and
  • TEE 2.0 offers increased comfort, with free Wi-Fi and restaurant cars.

While the letter of intent is not legally binding, the signatories agree to identify which railway operators from their respective countries want to be involved in delivering future TEE 2.0 services. They also pledged to act as facilitators to ensure that rail operators and infrastructure managers in neighbouring countries make meaningful progress in developing TEE 2.0 plans.

In addition, the signatories agreed to request that the European Commission (EC) propose the launch of an EU financial assistance programme to invest in rolling stock that can operate across borders. They also agreed to lobby for further technical and operational improvements to facilitate the operation of cross-border rail services.

Under the new agreement, and to support the prospective operators, the EU member states promise to act as moderators in the development of timetables. They also vow to support the creation of an interoperable digital booking platform which supports booking international journeys offered by TEE 2.0 operators, which should be as straightforward as domestic journeys. How such a system would deal with the domestic parts of journeys to or from the high-speed rail network, and how third-party rail ticket sales websites might be included, is unclear.

A proposed network published after the conference has been expanded compared with the earlier iteration, which was centred on central Europe. It now includes routes that can be achieved relatively simply such as Barcelona – Nice – Venice as well as others such as Warsaw – Riga – Tallinn that rely on major new infrastructure projects now underway, in this case Rail Baltica, which is due to open in 2026.

Some existing high frequency international links have also been included at the request of EU member states, including Amsterdam – London route serving non-EU member, Britain.

Separately, as part of the conference, Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the future expansion of the Berlin – Dresden – Prague – Vienna Via Vindobona international connection. The declaration outlines the planned high-speed line and other infrastructure plans for the route.

Cultural references[edit]

The railway service was the subject of a 1977 album by German electronic music group Kraftwerk, the music of which has been sampled multiple times and has thus ingrained the railway reference in a variety of musical genres. One of the locations from the 1992 video game Earnest Evans is based on a train using the Trans Europ Express.[13]

Trans-Europ Express also provides the title of a 1966 film by French director Alain Robbe-Grillet, starring Jean-Louis Trintignant.

List of the TEE trains[edit]

Train number Name Service start Service end
TEE 92/93 Adriatico Milano C – Bari 3 June 1973 30 May 1987
TEE 8/9 Albert Schweitzer Dortmund – Strasbourg 2 June 1980 27 May 1983
TEE 78/79 Ambrosiano Milano – Roma 26 May 1974 30 May 1987
TEE 1/2 Aquitaine Paris Austerlitz – Bordeaux 23 May 1971 30 May 1984
TEE 7/8 (later 64/65) Arbalète Paris Est – Basel SBB – Zürich HB 2 June 1957 26 May 1979
TEE 88/89 Aurora Roma – Reggio di Calabria 26 May 1974 31 May 1975
TEE 14/15 Bacchus München – Dortmund 28 May 1979 30 May 1980
TEE 66/67 Bavaria Zürich HB – München 28 September 1969 21 May 1977
TEE 84/85 Brabant Paris Nord – Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid – (Amsterdam CS) 26 May 1963 2 June 1984
TEE 90/91 Blauer Enzian Hamburg-Altona – München – (Klagenfurt)[note 1] 30 May 1965 26 May 1979
TEE 74/75 Le Capitole (du matin) Paris-Austerlitz – Toulouse-Matabiau (morning train) 27 September 1970 23 May 1982
TEE 76/77 Le Capitole (du soir) Paris-Austerlitz – Toulouse-Matabiau (evening train) 27 May 1970 29 September 1984
TEE 70-71/72-73 Catalan Talgo Geneva-Cornavin – Barcelona 1 June 1969 22 May 1982
TEE 13/14 (later 23/22) Cisalpin Paris-Lyon – Milano Centrale – (Venezia)[note 2] 1 July 1961 21 January 1984
TEE 68/69 Colosseum Roma – Milano C 3 June 1984 30 May 1987
TEE 36/37 Cycnus Milano – Ventimiglia 30 September 1973 27 May 1978
TEE 42/43 Diamant (I) Dortmund – Antwerpen 30 May 1965 29 May 1976
TEE 80/81 Diamant (II) München – Hamburg-Altona 27 May 1979 27 May 1981
TEE 90/93 Edelweiss Amsterdam – Zürich HB 2 June 1957 26 May 1979
TEE 26/27 Erasmus München – Nürnberg – Den Haag 3 June 1973 31 May 1980
TEE 4/5 Étendard Paris Austerlitz – Bordeaux[note 3] 26 August 1971 30 May 1984
TEE 82/85 Étoile du Nord Paris Nord – Amsterdam CS 2 June 1957 26 June 1984
TEE 34/35 Faidherbe Paris Nord – Lille – Tourcoing 2 October 1978 1 June 1991
TEE 16/17 Friedrich Schiller Dortmund – Stuttgart 27 May 1979 19 May 1982
TEE 14/15 (later 18/19) Gambrinus Hamburg-Altona – Köln (Cologne) – München 29 May 1978 27 May 1983
TEE 36/37 Gayant Paris Nord – Lille – Tourcoing 2 October 1978 30 May 1986
TEE 50/51 Goethe (I) Frankfurt/Main – Paris Est 31 May 1970 31 May 1975
TEE 24/25 Goethe (II) Frankfurt/Main – Dortmund 27 May 1979 27 May 1983
TEE 58/59 Gottardo Zürich HB – Milano C 1 July 1961 24 September 1988
TEE 28/29 Heinrich Heine Frankfurt/Main – Dortmund 27 May 1979 27 May 1983
TEE 78/79 Helvetia Zürich HB – Frankfurt/Main – Hamburg-Altona 2 June 1957 26 May 1979
TEE 88/81 L'Ile de France (I) Paris Nord – Amsterdam CS (only Paris–Brussels after 2 June 1984) 2 June 1957 30 May 1987
TEE 85/80 L'Ile de France (II) Paris Nord – Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid September 1993 28 May 1995
TEE 91/92 Iris Zürich – Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid 26 May 1974 30 May 1981
TEE 30/31 Jules Verne Paris Montparnasse – Nantes 28 September 1980 22 September 1989
TEE 60/61 Kléber Paris Est – Strasbourg 23 May 1971 23 September 1988
TEE 24/25 Lemano Milano C – Geneva-Cornavin 1 June 1958 22 May 1982
TEE 45-46/47-48 Ligure Milano C – Avignon[note 4] 12 September 1957 22 May 1982
TEE 12/13 Le Lyonnais Paris-Lyon – Lyon Perrache 9 February 1969 26 September 1976
TEE 84/85 Mediolanum München – Milano C 15 October 1957 2 June 1984
TEE 86/79 Memling Paris Nord – Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid 29 September 1974 1 June 1984
TEE 34/35 Merkur Stuttgart – Köln – København 26 May 1974 27 May 1978
TEE 10/11 Le Mistral Paris-Lyon – Marseille St. C – Nice-Ville 30 May 1965 26 September 1981
TEE 23/24 Mont Cenis Lyon-Perrache – Milano C 2 June 1957 30 September 1972
TEE 40/41 Molière (ex-Paris–Ruhr) Paris Nord – Köln 2 June 1957 25 May 1979
TEE 80/89 L'Oiseau Bleu Paris Nord – Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid 2 June 1957 2 June 1984
TEE 32/33 Parsifal Paris Nord – Dortmund – Hamburg-Altona 29 September 1957 26 May 1979
TEE 26/27 Prinz Eugen (I) Bremen – Passau – Wien Westbf. 25 September 1971 29 May 1976
TEE 26/27 Prinz Eugen (II) Hannover – Köln – Frankfurt/Main – Wien Westbf. 30 May 1976 27 May 1978
TEE 10/11 Rembrandt München – Stuttgart – Amsterdam CS 28 May 1967 28 May 1983
TEE 6/7 Rheingold Amsterdam CS – Geneva-Cornavin (train)[note 5] 30 May 1965 30 May 1987
TEE 16/17 Rheingold Amsterdam – Frankfurt – Nördlingen – München (coaches)[note 6] 23 May 1982 30 May 1987
TEE 21/22 Rheinpfeil Dortmund – Frankfurt/Main – München 30 May 1965 25 September 1971
TEE 74/75 Roland (I) Bremen – Basel SBB – Milano C 1 June 1969 26 May 1979
TEE 90/91 Roland (II) Bremen – Frankfurt/Main – Stuttgart 28 May 1979 29 May 1980
TEE 78/79 Rubens Paris Nord – Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid 29 September 1974 27 May 1987
TEE 16/17 Le Rhodanien Paris-Lyon – Marseille St. C 23 May 1971 29 September 1978
TEE 28/29 (later 20/21) Saphir Frankfurt/Main – Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid 2 June 1957 26 May 1979
TEE 68/69 Settebello Roma – Milano C 26 May 1974 2 June 1984
TEE 62/63 Stanislas Paris Est – Strasbourg 24 May 1971 25 September 1982
TEE 83-86/87-88 Ticino Zürich HB – Milano C 1 July 1961 25 May 1974
TEE 22/23 Van Beethoven (ex-Rhein–Main) Frankfurt/Main – Amsterdam CS 2 June 1957 26 May 1979
TEE 94/95 Vesuvio Milano C – Roma – Napoli 30 September 1973 30 May 1987
TEE 38/39 Watteau (I) Paris Nord – Lille – Tourcoing 2 October 1978 1 June 1991
TEE 89/88 Watteau (II) Paris Nord – Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid September 1993 28 May 1995
  1. ^ Route section between München and Klagenfurt operated 1969–1979, in summer and winter timetable periods only, last operating on 1 April 1979.
  2. ^ Route section between Milano and Venezia operated in summer only, 1974 through 1979.
  3. ^ Extended to Irun and from Hendaye, summer 1973 through summer 1975.
  4. ^ Original western terminus was at Marseille (and train number 151/156 or 27/28); extended to Avignon in 1969.
  5. ^ Bern–Geneva section discontinued 6 April 1980, reinstated autumn 1980 as winter-only service; Basel–Geneva section discontinued 1982. However, during certain times of year both before 1982 and continuing after, the train carried through coaches to Chur and (until 1985) Milano, which were attached to ordinary express trains south of Basel.
  6. '^ Rheingolds München variant operated only in summer until 1985, then year-round until withdrawn; extended to/from Salzburg during the summer timetable periods in 1985 and 1986.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Haydock, David (June–July 1996). "The Second Demise of the TEE". Today's Railways, p. 22–24. Platform 5 Publishing (UK). ISSN 1354-2753.
  2. ^ a b 60 Years On: What's Left of the TEE Today's Railways Europe issue 264 December 2017 pages 28-33
  3. ^ a b c d e Nock, O.S. (1978). World Atlas of Railways. New York: Mayflower Books (original publisher: Artists House, London, UK). ISBN 0-8317-9500-X.
  4. ^ Thomas Cook Continental Timetable (June 1–30, 1975 edition), p. 69. Peterborough, England: Thomas Cook Publishing.
  5. ^ Thomas Cook Continental Timetable (May 1–30, 1987 edition), p. 51. Thomas Cook Publishing. ISSN 0952-620X.
  6. ^ Thomas Cook European Timetable (April 1988 edition), p. 69. Thomas Cook Publishing.
  7. ^ Thomas Cook European Timetable (July 1994 edition), p. 69. Thomas Cook Publishing.
  8. ^ Germany calls for a new Trans Europe Express TEE 2.0 network,IRJ/
  9. ^
  10. ^ such as the Brenner Base Tunnel (Austria-Italy), Fehmarn Link (Denmark-Germany) and the new Stuttgart – Ulm high-speed line in Germany.
  11. ^ TEE 2.0 plans expand as EU ministers sign up, IRJ
  12. ^ TEE 2.0 Concept
  13. ^ "Earnest Evans Instruction Manual" (PDF). Sega Retro. Renovation Productions. 1992. p. 12. Retrieved 27 December 2022.


  • Malaspina, Jean-Pierre (2005). Des TEE aux TGV [TEE to TGV]. Trains d'Europe (in French). Vol. 1. Paris: La Vie du Rail. ISBN 2915034486.
  • Malaspina, Jean-Pierre; Mertens, Maurice (2007). TEE: la légende des Trans-Europ-Express [TEE: The Legend of the Trans Europ Express]. Auray: LR Presse. ISBN 978-29-03651-45-9. (in French)
  • Malaspina, Jean-Pierre; Mertens, Maurice (2008). TEE: la leggenda dei Trans-Europ-Express [TEE: The Legend of the Trans Europ Express]. Salò: ETR – Editrice Trasporti su Rotaie. ISBN 978-88-85068-31-5. (in Italian)
  • Mertens, Maurice; Malaspina, Jean-Pierre; von Mitzlaff, Berndt (2009). TEE - Die Geschichte des Trans-Europ-Express [TEE - The History of the Trans Europ Express]. Düsseldorf: Alba Publikation. ISBN 978-3-87094-199-4. (in German)

External links[edit]