Germany: A new eight-car electric train has made its inaugural trip with passengers on the Frankfurt – Cologne route. From mid-December Velaro MS ICE 3neo will operate on new routes throughout Germany, and as of 2024, after respective authorisation, on international routes to Belgium and the Netherlands. Deutsche Bahn (DB) ordered 73 ICE 3neo amounting to €2.5 bln by 2029, and Siemens has already delivered 4 of them.
Siemens Mobility developed a multi-system high-speed train, Velaro MS (MS for multi-system), by DB’s specification. DB ordered 30 new trains in July 2020. The contract included an option for additional 60 trains, and later DB used it to order 43 trains more. The DB’s specification provided for a 200 m long train with a maximum speed not less than 300 km/h. As it was required, the new train can be coupled with Velaro D and operated in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and the development did not take long.
Siemens Mobility modified Velaro platform in a record time of one year and run tests in summer 2021. A new train, ICE 3neo or Class 408, was unveiled at the company’s depot in Berlin-Rummelsburg. Final assembly of ICE 3neo takes place at Siemens’ Krefeld works. 230 German suppliers are involved in the project, including Knorr-Bremse, the manufacturer of brakes and door systems. The train was authorised for operation in Germany in November 2022.
The first Velaro MS (ICE 3neo) high-speed train by Siemens Mobility on trials. Source: DB
Velaro MS evolved from Velaro D (Class 407) that was manufactured in 2009–2012, as a result their specifications are in large part the same. The vehicle operates in two AC modes, 25 kV 50 Hz and 15 kV 16.7 Hz. For routes with DC electrification, 3 and 1.5 kV modes are available. The maximum speed in AC modes is 320 km/h, in DC modes, 200 km/h, with an acceleration rate of 0.5 m/s2 and total power of traction motors of 8 MW. The train is 200 m long and has 439 seats.
Velaro MS features 12 automatic doors on each side (with only 10 in Velaro D), including a separate door for passengers in wheelchairs, and 8 bicycle spaces in a head car. The first 16 trains of ordered 73 will have the same interiors as ICE 4 trains. DB selected Siemens and Alstom to develop the concept of ICx series. The other trains will feature the new design presented in spring 2022.
Interior of the Velaro MS (ICE 3neo) high-speed train. Source: DB
ICE 3neo offers innovations for passengers to enjoy a new, higher level of comfort, according to Deutsche Bahn. Each car will have larger luggage racks, holders for tablets, electrical sockets at each seat. The tone of lighting will adapt to the time of day. For uninterrupted cellphone service, a new technology will be applied that leaves a fine laser-made grid on the window surface.
By 2030 DB is planning to provide 32,000 additional seats and increase its high-speed train fleet up to 450 trains. This will become possible through the putting into operation of 73 ICE 3neo trains.