“High-performance infrastructure in all parts of Germany is an essential requirement for the unity of our country.”
Germany’s InterCity Express (ICE) high speed network has widened its reach with the opening of a link between Berlin and Munich that has slashed the average journey time between the two cities by more than two hours.
35 ICE trains will travel the 310-mile route at maximum speeds of 186mph (300kmh), completing the journey in less than four hours – a record time that ICE operator, Deutsche Bahn, says will double its market share for the route that would take the company to 40% overall.
The latest line, which links Nuremberg, Erfurt, Leipzig and Lutherstadt Wittenberg with Munich and Berlin, will free up to 100,000 additional seats, according to Deutsche Bahn, due to the longer trains that are now being used. Erfurt is now central Germany’s rail hub and offers fast connections in all four directions, with long-distance trains departing every hour. The services, which will see 80 ICE train stop in Erfurt every day, have been timed to optimise the connections to regional services so that more distant regions will also benefit from the advantages of the new line.
The launch of the line wasn't without its problems, however, as there were a number of unplanned stops that happened along way that meant the train arrived more than two hours later than scheduled. It certainly hasn't been the first train launch that went without a hitch; First Great Western's first Hitachi 800 journey in October was delayed by 41 minutes with a carriage on the train flooded thanks to a faulty air conditioning unit.
The Berlin-Munich line was officially opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s federal minister, Christian Schmidt, who said that it represented the end of a marathon race that began 26 years ago, in 1991. “High-performance infrastructure in all parts of Germany is an essential requirement for the unity of our country. That is the reason why the federal government provided funding of around €10bn euros for the project,” said Schmidt.
Richard Lutz, the CEO of Deutsche Bahn, said the new service will help Germany to grow closer together and encourage more people than ever before to travel by rail.,
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