The problem with Germany’s high-speed rail network

The problem with Germany’s high-speed rail network

The problem with Germany’s high-speed rail network

30 years ago, on June 2, 1991, the first ICE train made its maiden voyage across a German railway between Hamburg and Munich. However, today, the high-speed rail network is still relatively small.

30 years of high-speed trains

On June 2, 1991, 30 years ago, the first high-speed train, the ICE 1 (Intercity-Express 1), began operating between Hamburg and Munich in Germany. The new ICE 1 could reach speeds of up to 280 kilometres per hour and quickly became a popular mode of transport for people in the Federal Republic.

Now, in the present day, Germans will probably find themselves boarding ICE 4 trains, the fourth generation of Deutsche Bahn’s high-speed service. Speed is a crucial aspect of long-distance travel, so much so that when the high-speed line between Munich and Berlin was developed, cutting the travel time by up to four hours, many passengers started opting to take the train, rather than driving or taking a flight.

The problem with Germany’s high-speed rail

The high-speed rail network in Germany was integrated into Germany’s pre-existing railway network. This means that high-speed ICE trains often have to run on the same lines as slower, regular trains, such as long-distance trains or freight trains, which often leads to delays.

High-speed trains can only travel at a maximum top speed of 300 kilometres per hour on certain specific stretches of railway in Germany, meaning that the ICE 3 trains are not permitted to travel at their maximum speed of 330 kilometres per hour in the country.

There are still large gaps in Germany’s high-speed network, which highlights the need for an expansive transport policy that makes rail travel a priority. Despite the federal government taking steps to modernise and improve Germany’s rail network and facilities, with only around 1000 kilometres of high-speed rail, the situation will continue to have a detrimental effect on certain areas of society, like commuting, or the transportation of goods across the country.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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