Germany's latest ICE high-speed train
Germany's main rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) has officially unveiled its new high-speed train, the ICE 4. It's expected to become the new workhorse of DB's passenger network when it enters service in December 2017.
King of the rails
DB boss Rüdiger Grube unveiled the new train in Berlin. The ICE is one of Germany's best-known brands. DB says surveys indicate 100 percent name recognition for its flagship high-speed rail service. The ICE accounts for only around 8-10 percent of sales, but it lends prestige to DB's brand.
The newest model
The public saw the ICE 4 (on the right) for the first time in Berlin last December. It stood alongside a current-generation ICE 3. The new model will enter testing this autumn. The ICE 4 ist just under 350 meters long and has 830 seats.
DB could have easily fit 1,000 passengers on the train - but it decided to emphasize passenger comfort. It offers more legroom, space for luggage, and extra places for wheelchair users.
Despite its high speed and capacity, the train is relatively quiet. Energy consumption per passenger is 22 percent lower than the first-generation ICE a quarter of a century ago. But its top speed is 250 kilometers per hour - 50 km/h less than the ICE 3 - as it's not intended for use on the very fastest routes.
The Trans Europ Express (TEE) network set the standard for express trains in Western Europe when it was set up in 1957. The exclusively first class service ran for 30 years. Shown here is the West German "Rheingold" TEE train.
This is how the "Rheingold" looked on the inside - this is the restaurant car. Tourists and rail fans alike can still experience this 1960s luxury today on nostalgia rail trips.
Faced with competition from cars and planes, German railways in the 1930s increasingly used diesel trains instead of steam. The aerodynamically styled "flying trains" entered service in 1933 and drastically cut journey times. A new passenger service was formed that evolved into today's ICE network.
Fast as lightning
The first tests of fast electric trains began in 1903. A Siemens railcar reached 210 kilometers per hour on a test track near Berlin. But development didn't begin in earnest until after World War I.
France's TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) has been in operation since 1981. It holds numerous speed records, with the AGV version reaching a whopping 574 kilometers per hour in 2007. (In service, top speed is 320 km/h.) It's been an export hit, with TGV-based trains in Germany, Belgium, Britain, Switzerland and Italy.
From Beijing to Shanghai at 380 km/h
The fastest rail line in commercial service is in China - Between Beijing and Shanghai, trains reach 380 kilometers per hour. A Velaro Harmony CRH 380A trainset reached 486 km/h during testing in 2010.
Number one with a bullet
Japan's Shinkansen, sometimes called the "bullet train," was the first modern high-speed train. It entered service in 1964, in time for the Tokyo Olympics, with a service speed of 210 kilometers per hour. Today's models are even faster, reaching 320 km/h.
The Hyperloop is a California-designed concept for a high-speed train that could reach over 1,200 kilometers per hour. It would travel through specially built partial-vacuum tubes to reduce wind resistance. Air jets would lift it off the floor, eliminating wheel friction.