ICE 4 (Germany)

If you will be taking a journey by these ICE 4 trains our guide will tell you all you need to know, from boarding, to making the most of the journey experience.

The ICE 4 trains are the very latest addition to the family of ICE trains and internally they are as sleek and comfortable as their predecessors, but what may surprise is that they are slower - they have a top speed of 250 km/h.

Over the next few years, Germany's national rail operator, DB, plans to use them to replace some  high speed services currently using ICE 1 and ICE T trains


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These ICE 4 trains are a simpler version of the ICE trains, they DON'T have;

(i) the lounges at the ends of the trains, which are available on the ICE 3 and ICE T trains,

(ii) many compartment seats - virtually all seats on the ICE 4 trains are in open plan seating saloons

The only exceptions are the parent/toddler compartments and the groups of seats at both ends of the train - which can be worth seeking out.

There's a great review of these ICE 4 trains, written by a train conductor HERE.

What they DO have, are:

(i) restaurant cars - like the ICE 1 trains they will be replacing

(ii) more luggage racks including bike racks - and other space in which to store luggage

(iii) more information screens throughout the train - including screens which show the connecting details of trains at the next station call.


Reservations are now included when booking 1st class journeys by ICE trains.

However, in 2nd class (and for rail pass users in 1st class and 2nd class) they're available - but optional.
2nd class = €4.50
1st class = €5.90

They can be added when making a booking or purchased separately - if you already have a ticket OR a rail pass - either online, or at the station at a Reisezentrum ticket desk, or from a DB ticket machine.

'Quiet' and 'Phone' zones are available on ICE 4 trains and when booking 1st class tickets, or making a reservation in 1st or 2nd class, you can choose seats within these 'zones'. 

When booking reservations for journeys by ICE 4 trains on DB, the 'choose a seat' facility shows the direction of travel, so you can opt to face forwards.

If you have not reserved the availability of seats is NOT guaranteed - if need be walk through the train to find available seats.

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The ICE 4 trains are long, they have 12 coaches.

Therefore aim to be on the platform/track/gleis at the station at least 5 minutes before departure, particularly if you will be joining the train at an intermediate station.
Give yourself time to figure out where you should wait on the platform/track/gleis prior to boarding.

(1) If you have a reservation before arriving on the gleis/platform/track, check your ticket for the number of the coach in which your reserved seat is located.

Then use the info screens on the gleis/platform, to check in which zone on the gleis you should wait, for easy boarding.

(2) Some coaches/carriages only have one door, while others have two.

(3) The doors won’t open automatically so you may have to press the green button.

(4) If you haven't reserved seats, a less obvious aspect of travelling by ICE 4 trains is that they have 'Quiet' and 'Phone' zones'

So look out for the signs on the exterior and interior of the trains indicating whether a particular coach has these zones.
You can then either target or avoid seats in these areas.

Four Tips For Finding A Seat:

(1)  What is a break with how the other ICE trains are operated, is the system for displaying reservation info on these ICE 4 trains

The seat numbers and reservation details are NOT above the seats by the luggage racks.
Instead this info is shown on yellow, not red text, on a side panel on the seat, which faces the aisle - as pictured above.

(2) The info which shows a seat is free or not is similar to the other ICE trains

So if you board a Hamburg – Munchen train at Hannover Hbf and see Hannover – Munchen by a seat number, then this seat will be occupied for the rest of the journey.

However other seats may only be reserved between Wurzburg and Munchen, so if you were travelling from Hannover to Wurzburg, you  could sit in this seat.

(3) Seat numbers that have no text beside them or have 'bahn comfort' displayed are available for all or the remainder of the journey.

(4) You may see 'ggf. freigeben' displayed which indicates that a seat MAY be free, but avoid these seats if possible, as in our experience it usually means that the seat won't be free for the entire journey.

(5) An unusual feature is that the yellow text turns itself off 15 mins after the train has departed, from a station from which the seat is reserved.

The logic being is that that if the holder of the reservation doesn’t claim the seat, then passengers without reservations, who board at the next station will know that the seat is available.

So if you do have a reservation and are travelling alone, take care to not be absent from your seat when the train calls at stations.

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All seats are in open plan saloons on the ICE 4, except for the dedicated family compartment seats and some seats at the front and back of these trains.

Quiet zones:

If you haven't reserved, check whether you happen to be sitting in a 'Quiet Zone', if you are the conductor, or your fellow travellers, will ask you not to make or receive calls during your journey.

Power sockets:

The power sockets are between the seats, but under them.


A plus of ICE 4 trains is that the Wi-Fi is as reliable as you would expect on a relatively new train.


A big innovation with the ICE 4 compared to the older ICE trains is that these are the first ICE trains to be equipped with bike racks.
Though spaces on these bike racks need to be reserved and paid for prior to boarding .

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These trains have a restaurant car at which you can take a seat and order food to be brought to you, irrespective of whether you will be travelling 1st or 2nd class.
The prices aren't exceptionally expensive, but the food is quality home-style rather than fine-dining.

You can either join the restaurant car for part of the journey, or head straight to it when you board.
Though you won't be allowed to linger in your seat(s) once you have finished your meal.

There is no trolley catering on ICE trains.

If you are travelling 1st or 2nd class you can opt to purchase hot/cold food and drink from the bar/bistro car, or have a meal in the restaurant car.

Travelling 1st class:

An attendant will also pass through 1st class taking orders for food and drink to be delivered to your seat – try to avoid confusing them with the conductor who will check the tickets etc.

Be aware that you will be charged for all items that you order at your seat.

If you’re travelling 1st class and are particularly thirsty/hungry, don’t wait for the catering attendant to make their round, go to the bar counter and order in person.

Worth knowing:

On ICE trains glasses and china plates and cups are used and not paper and plastic.
Very classy and probably more eco-friendly too, but take care!

It is not unknown for items to fly off tables when brakes are applied or when trains take corners at high speed.

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ICE 4 trains are now scheduled to operate all departures on these routes:
(1) Munchen/Munchen - Nurnberg - Wurzburg - Kassel - Hannover - Hamburg - (Kiel)
(2) Hamburg - Hannover - Kassel - Frankfurt (Main) - Mannheim - Karlsruhe - Freiburg - Basel  - Zurich - Chur

ICE 4 trains now share this route with ICE-3 trains:
Munchen/Munich  - Augsburg - Stuttgart - Mannheim - Frankfurt Flughafen - Koln Hbf - Dusseldorf - Essen - Dortmund

ICE 4 trains now share this route with ICE-T trains:
Munchen/Munich  - Nurnberg  - Erfurt  - Leipzig - Berlin - Hamburg

ICE 4 trains share these routes with ICE 1 trains:
(1) Stuttgart - Mannheim - Frankfurt Flughafen - Frankfurt (Main) - Kassel - Hannover - Hamburg - (Kiel)
(2) Munchen/Munchen - Augsburg - Ulm - Stuttgart - Mannheim - Frankfurt (Main) - Erfurt - Leipzig - Berlin

Check which specific services/departures should be operated by these ICE 4 trains.

An overview of train travel in Germany

How to buy tickets for German train journeys

Travelling ON the trains in Germany

Travelling on European daytime trains

Travelling on European overnight trains

International train routes to/from Germany

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Bistro (Hot Food)
Bar (Cold Food)
Double Deck
High Speed
First Class
1 (1.klasse)
Second Class
2 (2.klasse)

Rail passes and reservations

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