ICE 3neo: Deutsche Bahn’s speediest train makes first trip in Germany

The high-speed train took off for the first time with paying passengers on the Frankfurt-Cologne route.

ICE 3neo: Deutsche Bahn's speediest train makes first trip in Germany
The new ICE train in Frankfurt on Monday morning. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The new express trains can reach a top speed of 320 kilometres per hour – up from the previous 300 km/hour – and will mainly travel on special “speedways”, initially between Dortmund, Cologne, Stuttgart and Munich. 

Connections to Brussels and Amsterdam are set to follow in 2024. The trains will be featured on Deutsche Bahn’s new schedule set to come out on December 11th. 

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Germany in December 2022

From the outside, the Siemens-built train looks nearly identical to the current ICE 3 model, but the main improvements can be seen from the inside, said DB in a statement. 

Above all, the new trains boast better lighting, mobile radio-transparent windows and space for eight bicycles. In addition, a fast lifting platform has been built to make it easier for wheelchair users or people with disabilities to get on board.     

Deutsche Bahn ordered a total of 73 ICE 3neo trains from manufacturer Siemens, four of which have already been delivered, it said. 

The last train is to be delivered in 2029 at the latest, with the new line-up to cost Deutsche Bahn around €2.5 billion.

Trying to get up to speed

The trains are urgently needed, said DB passenger transport board member Michael Peterson. “Reliability is not good at Deutsche Bahn at the moment,” and will “remain the case for a certain period of time”. 

READ ALSO: ‘A disaster’: How did train travel in Germany get so bad?

The reason for this, he said, is that Deutsche Bahn is working at full speed to modernise its rail system, which has led to several delays, rerouted services and in some cases cancellations.

In addition to the ICE 3neo, a total of almost 140 somewhat slower ICE 4s are set to join the fleet. 

According to Peterson, more than 450 ICE trains are set to join the network by the end of the decade – about 100 more than at present. 


maximum speed – (die) Höchstgeschwindigkeit

wheelchair user – (der) Rohlstuhlfahrer

equipped – ausgestattet

reliability – (die) Verlässlichkeit

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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EXPLAINED: Why travel chaos from transport strikes in Germany could get worse

After a week of industrial action at several airports in Germany - and on Düsseldorf's public transport network - the threat of more strikes is looming large. Here's why the travel chaos could only just be beginning.

EXPLAINED: Why travel chaos from transport strikes in Germany could get worse

With the cost of living soaring in Germany, unions are currently engaged in a process known as collection bargaining, demanding higher wages from employers to help cope with inflation. 

Among them are the EVG Transport and Rail Union – which covers employees of Deutsche Bahn – and the service and public-sector union Verdi.

While rail workers haven’t yet joined the wave of strike action Germany has seen in recent months, employees of local public transport operators and airport employees have been making their voices heard.

On Monday, employees at three major airports – Hamburg, Berlin and Hanover – all downed tools, followed by strikes at four other major German airports on Friday. An estimated 76,000 passengers were affected. 

This was accompanied by transport strikes in North Rhine-Westphalia – a state that’s been hit by multiple days of public sector strikes recently. 

But according to reports in Bild and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a far bigger round of strikes could be on the horizon.

On March 27th, EVG and Verdi are considering a coordinated day of action that would hit not just local public transport and airports, but also train services and even motorways. 

While this hasn’t been voted on yet, negotiations next week will be crucial in deciding the path forward for the unions. EVG is aiming to meet with representatives from each of the companies whose employees it represents by March 23rd, and will make a decision on the wider strike after that date.  

If talks continue to stall, they also have the option of doing what Deutsche Post workers threatened to do shortly before they netted an 11.5 percent pay rise a few weeks back: going on strike indefinitely. 

READ ALSO: Will Deutsche Bahn staff be next to strike in Germany?

What are the unions demanding?

The last wage agreement between Deutsche Bahn and EVG was concluded back in 2021, and this agreement is set to expire this year.

To replace it, the union is calling for a new agreement that includes a 12 percent pay increase for workers – amounting to at least €650 extra per month for senior employees and €325 more per month for junior employees. This could boost the pay packets of around 180,000 workers.

Meanwhile, Verdi has been engaged in tough negotiations for around 2.5 million workers in the pubic sector for several weeks. They’re asking for a 10.5 percent pay increase amounting to at least €500 per month for employees in local administration, hospitals, local transport, waste disposal and other public-sector jobs. 

In the second round of negotiations on February 22nd and 23rd in Potsdam, employers offered a staggered pay increase of five percent alongside inflation compensation bonuses totalling €2,500. Verdi rejected this offer, describing it as “an insult” and “declaration of war” on its members. The next round of negotiations is set to take place between March 27th and 29th. 

A Deutsche Bahn ICE train travels along a railway line in the Hanover region.

A Deutsche Bahn ICE train travels along a railway line in the Hanover region. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

The unions say their demands are justified by the massive hike in costs their members are facing. Inflation hit 6.9 percent in 2022 in Germany, with price rises even entering the double-digits towards the end of the year. 

“We don’t want competition on the backs of workers, but good wages on for all workers in the mobility sector,” EVG negotiator Cosima Ingenschayder told Bild this week. 

Deutsche Bahn, meanwhile, says it has had to consider the future viability of the company in light of the ongoing war in Ukraine, its post-pandemic finances and the ongoing energy crisis.

However, on March 15th the company put forward an offer to EVG that includes a five percent pay increase over the next 12 months, one-off inflation bonuses for employees and a ‘minimum wage’ of €13 per hour. EVG has not yet responded to the offer. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why are there so many strikes in Germany right now?

Can I get compensation for travel disruption? 

If the transport strikes do go ahead on March 27th as planned, there are a number of ways passengers can get compensation for missed or delayed journeys.

Deutsche Bahn’s policies state that passengers facing delays of more than 60 minutes can rebook free of charge, or get 25 percent of their ticket price refunded even if they take the journey. If you arrive at your destination more than 120 minutes late, you can claim a discount of 50 percent off the one-way ticket price.

Berlin's S-Bahn in summer.

Berlin’s S-Bahn in summer. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

You can also check the Deutsche Bahn website or app for up-to-date details on cancelled, delayed or re-routed journeys.

For regional buses and trains, you’ll need to check the policies of your local transport operator. Most do offer some form of compensation, though this can be tricky to claim if you have a monthly or yearly subscription set up.

If you’ve had a flight delayed or cancelled, EU law states that you’re also entitled to compensation. This will depend on the delay and the distance of the flight but will generally be €250 for short flights, €400 for longer flights and up to €600 for flights covering more than 3,500 kilometres.

For more information on what you can do in the event of rail or airport strikes, check out our explainers below: