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Travel On Train ICE Trains (an overview)
An ICE1 train

ICE Trains (an overview)

This general guide to ICE trains explains the differences between the six different types of ICE train, the routes they take and what you can expect on board.

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At a Glance

Travel Pass Supplement

Rail Pass Reservation Fees
Reservations

Available
Time of Day

Day
Catering

Food services available

Bistro (bar food and take away meals)
Accessibility

Accessing the train

Wheelchair Spaces
Train Specification

Attributes of the train

Has a Conductor
High Speed (partial)
Country

Which country these trains operate in.

Germany
Travel Passes
Eurail
InterRail

On Board

1

Perks
WiFi

A complimentary WiFi portal is available throughout this train.

Power Socket

The power sockets on this train are compatible with standard E.U. two point plugs.

At Seat Catering

According to the time of day of travel, passengers will be able to choose from a menu of catering options, which will then be served at their seats.

2

Perks
Power Socket

The power sockets on this train are compatible with standard E.U. two point plugs.

WiFi

A complimentary WiFi portal is available throughout this train.

ICE 2 trains at Hannover Hbf ICE 2 trains at Hannover Hbf
The front end view of an ICE 3 (403) train The front end view of an ICE 3 (403) train
The front end view of an ICE 3 (407) train The front end view of an ICE 3 (407) train
An ICE-T train An ICE-T train
An (admittedly poor view) of an ICE 4 train An (admittedly poor view) of an ICE 4 train
The Quiet zone symbols in an ICE seating saloon The Quiet zone symbols in an ICE seating saloon

The ICE train travel guide:

There are now 6 types of ICE train in service, so click on these six inks below to access more info if you know which type of train you will be travelling by.

ICE 1 l ICE 2

ICE 3 (403/406)* l ICE T

ICE 3 (407)** l ICE 4

*Technically the 403 and 406 trains are different, but from a passenger perspective, they are virtually identical, but the 406 trains are used on the routes between Germany and both Belgium and The Netherlands.

**These trains are mainly used on the DB-SNCF services on the Frankfurt (Main) ↔ Paris routes.

On the journey guides SMTJ strives to make the distinction between specific types of ICE train being used on each route, because the on-board experience varies depending on which type of ICE train you will be used for your journey.
ICE trains are generally fabulous, but being on an ICE1 train can feel very different to travelling on an ICE-T train etc.

Features these trains share:

All ICE trains have:

(1) A bistro bar serving drinks, snacks and hot/cold light meals.

(2) An at seat service in 1st class (but note that the food/drink is not complimentary)

(3) 'Quiet' and 'Phone' zones within the train.

Travellers are not supposed to use their phones in 'Quiet' coaches/zones, the conductor or your fellow passengers will ask you not to do so.

Mobile phone usage is permitted in the 'Phone zones', but in effect this means any seat on the train, that's NOT located in a Quiet Zone'

If you know that you'll want to use your mobile device during your journey, you can specifically request a 'seat in a 'Phone zone' - and conversely you can book a seat in a 'Quiet Zone' if you don't want to be disturbed by mobile phone usage.

If you haven't reserved, you'll be less likely to be aware of these 'zones' when boarding a train and looking for seats.
You may unwittingly find a seat available, which happens to be in a 'mobile' or 'quiet' coach, when either of these zones may not have been your preference.
So look for the symbols on the outside and the inside of the trains - though we have made multiple journeys by ICE trains, without being aware of the existence of these zones, as can be seen on one of the images above, the signage can be quite subtle.

Summary of differences:

The key differences between the different types of ICE trains can be summarised as:

Restaurant cars = ICE 1 and ICE 3 (407)* and ICE 4 trains
*restaurant cars are not available on the more common types of ICE 3 trains

Compartment seats available to all passengers = not on ICE 2 or ICE 4 trains

End of train lounges = ICE 3 (403 and 406) and ICE T trains

Family compartments = not on ICE 2 trains

Bike racks = only on ICE 4 trains (non-folding bikes cannot be taken on the other types of ICE train).

Summary of routes taken by each type of train:

This is not a comprehensive list, it's a summary of the type of ICE train USUALLY used on each of these routes - in both directions

Hamburg - Berlin - Leipzig - Erfurt - Frankfurt (Main) - Mannheim - Stuttgart - Munchen:
most departures by ICE 4 trains
some departures by ICE 1 trains

Berlin - Kassel - Frankfurt (Main) - Mannheim - Kalrsruhe - Basel - Bern - Interlaken:
trains which terminate in Interlaken = ICE 4 trains
trains which terminate in Basel = ICE 1 trains

Berlin - Kassel - Frankfurt (Main) (Sud) - Frankfurt Airport:
all departures by ICE 1 trains

Berlin - Hannover - Hamm - Dortmund - Essen - Duisburg - Dusseldorf:
all departures by ICE 2 trains

Berlin - Hannover - Hamm - Wupppertal - Koln/Cologne hbf:
all departures by ICE 2 trains

Berlin - Erfurt - Nurnberg - Regensburg - Linz - Wien/Vienna:
all departures by ICE T trains

ICE 'Sprinter' Service: Berlin - Erfurt - Frankfurt (Main):
some departures by ICE 3 (403) trains
some departures by ICE 4 trains

ICE 'Sprinter' Service: Berlin - Erfurt - Nurnberg - Munchen:
all departures by ICE 3 (403) trains
(non Sprinter services = ICE T trains)

Hamburg - Berlin - Leipzig - Erfurt - Nurnberg - Munchen:
all departures by ICE 4 trains

Hamburg/Bremen - Hannover - Kassel - Wurzburg - Nurnberg - Munchen:
a mix of ICE trains is used
most of the trains which don't also serve Bremen are ICE 1 trains
the departures which serve both Bremen and Hamburg are a mix of ICE 2 and ICE T trains

Hamburg - Hannover - Kassel - Frankfurt (Main) - Frankfurt Airport - Mannheim - Stuttgart:
most departures by ICE 1 trains
some departures by ICE 4 trains

Hamburg - Hannover - Kassel - Frankfurt (Main) - Mannheim - Kalrsruhe - Basel - Zurich - Chur:
all departures to Chur by ICE 4 trains

Hamburg - Hannover - Kassel - Wurzburg - Nurnberg - Regensburg - Linz - Wien/Vienna:
all departures by ICE T trains

Hamburg - Bremen - Dortmund - Essen - Duisburg - Dusseldorf - Koln/Cologne (Messe-Deutz) - Frankfurt Airport - Mannheim - Stuttgart
some departures by ICE 3 (403) trains
some departures by ICE 3 (407) trains

Amsterdam - Utrecht - Arnhem - Oberhausen - Duisburg - Dusseldorf - Koln/Cologne hbf - Frankfurt Airport - Frankfurt (Main):
all departures by ICE 3 (406) trains

Bruxelles - Liege - Aachen - Koln/Cologne hbf - Frankfurt Airport - Frankfurt (Main):
all departures by ICE 3 (406) trains

Essen - Duisburg - Dusseldorf - Koln/Cologne (Messe-Deutz) - Frankfurt Airport - Frankfurt (Main) - Wurzburg - Nurnberg - Munchen:
all departures by ICE 3 (403) trains

Dortmund - Wuppertal - Koln/Cologne (Messe-Deutz) - Frankfurt Airport - Frankfurt (Main) - Wurzburg - Nurnberg - Munchen:
most departures by ICE 3 (403) trains
a few departures by ICE 3 (407) trains

Dortmund - Wuppertal - Koln/Cologne hbf - Frankfurt Airport - Mannheim - Stuttgart - Augsburg - Munchen:
most departures by ICE 4 trains
a few departures by ICE 3 (403) trains

Essen - Duisburg - Dusseldorf - Koln/Cologne hbf - Frankfurt Airport - Mannheim - Stuttgart - Augsburg - Munchen:
most departures by ICE 4 trains
a few departures by ICE 3 (403) trains

Koln/Cologne hbf - Frankfurt Airport - Mannheim - Kalrsruhe - Basel:
all departures by ICE 3 (403) trains

Koln/Cologne - Koblenz - Frankfurt Airport - Frankfurt (Main) - Wurzburg - Nurnberg - Regensburg - Linz - Wien/Vienna:
all departures by ICE T trains

Dresden - Leipzig - Erfurt - Frankfurt (Main) - Frankfurt Airport - Weisbaden:
all departures by ICE T trains

Frankfurt (Main) - Mannheim - Kaiserlautern - Saarbrucken - Paris:
some departures by ICE 3 (407) trains*

Frankfurt (Main) - Mannheim - Karlsruhe - Strasbourg - Paris:
some departures by ICE 3 (407) trains*
*other departures on these routes are by French TGV Duplex trains.

Tickets & seat reservations:

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.
They can be added when making a booking or purchased separately either online or at the station - at a ticket desk or at a DB ticket machine.

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

Also worth knowing about seat reservations on ICE trains:

In addition to ensuring that you can remain in one seat for your entire journey, there are THREE less obvious benefits of making a reservation, if you will be travelling 2nd class, or using a 1st class rail pass).
(And when booking 1st class tickets, when reservations are automatically added, these three things are also worth keeping in mind).

(1) You can select between options for the location of your seat, which in addition to window or aisle seats, can include compartment seats and seats at tables.

(2) You can choose in which 'zone' on the train that you wish to travel by - 'Quiet', 'Mobile' or 'Standard'.

(3) You can usually choose specific seats on a seating plan and if you will be travelling on an ICE 1 or ICE 4 train, you will also be able to ensure your seat is facing forwards.

Though if you have opted to face forwards, be aware that ICE trains reverse direction when calling at the hbf stations in Frankfurt (Main), Leipzig and Stuttgart and that also applies to most trains which call at Koln Hbf.

ShowMeTheJourney

This is one of more than 150 train guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.