The new ICE is expected to attract millions more passengers to rail. It doesn’t score with more speed – but perhaps with comfort.
The new ICE, now with larger windows Photo: reuters
A colorful light show with a kind of electric marching music accompanies the ICE 4 at its premiere in Berlin’s main station. 300 railroad workers who worked on it disembark. Such a fuss has probably never been made over a train in Germany. "The ICE 4 is our flagship and at the same time the backbone of rail transport," says Deutsche Bahn CEO Rudiger Grube.
That reflects the high expectations for the new generation of trains. The company hopes to attract an additional 50 million passengers a year onto the railways. The manufacturers Siemens and Bombardier will deliver a total of 130 trains by 2023. Deutsche Bahn is spending a total of 5.3 billion euros on them. If they are well received by passengers, the company plans to order 90 more.
The technology works so efficiently that Deutsche Bahn estimates the ICE will deliver both its funding and additional revenue. The manufacturer and the railroad seem to have learned something from past mistakes. All too often, inadequately tested technology ended up in everyday service. This time, passengers were also involved in the development right from the start. Among other things, this led to significant design changes such as larger windows. The train removed rows of seats to create more space for luggage.
830 seats are distributed among the ten-car trains. Some annoyances will no longer exist in the future: For example, the seats no longer fold toward the person behind when the sleeping position is adjusted, but remain in their original place. Only the seat itself moves forward. There is also plenty of space for families and the disabled. More wheelchair spaces, a toddler compartment or room for a stroller are standard features on the new super train.
Cool. Now without broken air conditioning
There should also be no more trouble with air-conditioning breaking down in the summer. The system is designed for outside temperatures of up to 45 degrees. What’s more, with the ICE 4, Deutsche Bahn is also appealing to cyclists for the first time. There is space for eight bikes. However, the seats for them must be reserved.
The train is also a rejection of the mantra of traveling as fast as possible. The technology is not designed for top speeds. The train will travel a maximum of 250 kilometers per hour. On the Sprinter routes, Deutsche Bahn will continue to use the super-fast ICE 3 trains, which compete with airplanes.
It will still be a while before regular service is available. This fall, the ICE 4 will run in test mode between Hamburg and Munich. Seven trains will then enter regular service at the end of 2017. The train will be used as a link between the major cities. By 2030, the major cities are to be connected every half hour.