ICE 3, or Intercity-Express 3, is a family of high-speed EMU trains operated by Deutsche Bahn. It includes classes 403, 406 and 407, which are known as ICE 3, ICE 3M and New ICE 3 respectively. Four multisystem trains, known as ICE International, are owned by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS, Dutch Railways).
Based on the ICE 3M/F, Siemens developed its Siemens Velaro train family with versions for Spain, China, Russia, its home country Germany, as well as Great Britain and Turkey.
The design goal of the ICE 3 (Class 403) was to create a higher-powered, lighter train than its predecessors. This was achieved by distributing its 16 traction motors underneath the whole train. The train is licensed for 330 km/h (210 mph) and has reached 368 km/h (228.66 mph)) on trial runs. On regular Intercity-Express services they run at up to 300 km/h (190 mph), the maximum design speed of German high-speed lines.
Because the train does not have powerheads, the whole length of the train is available for passenger seats, including the first car. The lounge-seats are located directly behind the driver, separated only by a glass wall.
The 50 sets were ordered in 1997 and specifically designed for the new high-speed line between Frankfurt and Cologne. They were built by a consortium led by Siemens and Adtranz (now Bombardier Transportation).
The ICE 3M (Class 406; M for multisystem) was developed to operate international services under the four different railway electrification systems in use on Europe’s main lines and with support for various train protection systems. The Deutsche Bahn (DB) ordered 13 of these units in 1994, the NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) four, making sure that the demands of the Dutch rail network are taken care of. Though these trains carry NS logos, the DB and NS trains together form a pool and therefore, the NS trains may operate DB services as well. In 2007 the train was licensed for operation in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Currently, those trains are used for cross-border runs between Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France. On the French LGV Est, some trains reach a regular top speed of 320 km/h (199 mph).
The 17 class 406 sets were built by the same consortium as the class 403. They were first introduced from November 2000 on services between Cologne and Amsterdam. Since December 2002, they have also been operating three journeys daily each way between Frankfurt and Brussels (increased to four per day since December 2010).
In Belgium, the train was licensed in 2002 to run on the classic 3 kV DC lines with speeds up to 160 km/h (99 mph) and, from December 2004, also on the new 25 kV AC high-speed lines, but initially limited to 250 km/h (155 mph) instead of 300 km/h (186 mph). Problems with flying gravel and its frictionless linear eddy current brake came up during testing. In order to limit the creation of tornado-like vortices that pick up gravel and to limit damage from flying gravel to the train, spoilers have been added under the car joints, under the carbody next to the bogies and under the powered axles on the bogies.
The linear eddy current brake, which is required for higher speeds, cannot yet be used, because the magnetic field would rip off the magnetic covers of some trackside equipment; those covers will have to be replaced by non-magnetic ones according to the EU Technical Specifications for Interoperability for international rail traffic in Europe.
As in Belgium, licensing procedures for France took five years to be completed. Trial runs were completed in late 2005 and the same two problems were encountered as in Belgium: loose gravel damage and possible side-effects of the brakes. ICE 3Ms were allowed on the LGV Est and started service there on 20 June 2007, mixed with TGVs. Since December 2007, DB operates ICE 3M trains from Frankfurt central station to Paris Est, initially with five daily runs between both cities. The six trains for running into France (designated ICE-3 MF, indicating multisystem France) were modified at Bombardier’s Hennigsdorf plant and were extensively tested on Siemens’ test site in Wegberg-Wildenrath before the modified trains re-entered commercial service. Video Rating: / 5