|July 16, 2002|
New $6 Billion German High-Speed Rail Line
|Travel times along Germany?s most heavily trafficked route, between Frankfurt and Cologne, will be reduced by one hour beginning August 1 when the German Railroads (DB) begin service on its newest $6 billion, 186-mph high-speed rail line, according to an announcement by Rail Europe, leading North American supplier of European rail products. The trip between Frankfurt and Cologne, presently 2 hours 14 minutes on conventional (not high-speed) track, will take a little more than 1 hour.|
Initially, 54 third-generation ICE* (ICE 3) trainsets traveling at speeds of 186 mph will provide hourly service (6 am- 8 pm) between the two main rail stations and include stops at Frankfurt airport, Siegburg/Bonn, Montabur and Limburg-Sud. Additional trainsets (both ICE 3 and renovated ICE 2s) will be put in service as passenger traffic increases. By December 15, the new line will be completely integrated into the German rail network, with other stops along the Rhine-Main corridor, including a spur to Wiesbaden, and connections to other regions of Germany.
ICE 3 trains will have laptop and audio connections as standard equipment for all passengers. In first class, passengers will have video screens and individual reading lights. On ICE 3 trains seating capacity in second class carriages will be greater than on ICE 2s ? 342 seats vs 280, and about the same number of seats (98) in first class. The cost of a ticket between Frankfurt and Cologne is $64 US/$106 Canadian (1st class) or $45 US/$75 Canadian (2nd).
Comprising 136 mi. of dedicated high-speed track, 30 tunnels and 18 major viaducts, the new line is the largest German rail infrastructure project to date and took six years to build. Between Frankfurt and Cologne the new direct track is 30 mi. shorter than the current, conventional rail track. With an eye to preserving open space and minimizing environmental impact, the new rail line was built to follow the busy A3 highway. The high-speed rail line is expected to draw passengers from short-haul air routes, as well as the roads, thus reducing the overall environmental impact of travel along this corridor.
* ICE =InterCity Express, Germany?s high-speed trains. Both high-speed trains and special track, with minimal curves and no crossings, are required to operate at high speeds (over 150 mph). Commercial operating speed of German ICEs is 186 mph.