Relating to the names of his three “kids”, engineer Peter Lankes has it straightforward: They’re referred to as Intercity-Categorical 1, 2 and three – higher identified by their frequent abbreviation: ICE. The oldest of them is already celebrating its 30th birthday. On June 2, 1991, the ICE1 was first utilized in scheduled service from Hamburg to Munich. The prepare reaches 280 kilometers per hour at its peak. Germany had lastly arrived within the age of high-speed rail visitors.
Even on the wheel
“I felt as if my very own little one was going to high school,” says Lankes of the times. As a challenge supervisor at Deutsche Bahn, the now 70-year-old helped design, develop and drive the primary three ICE generations. He was on board on the maiden voyage of the ICE1, and was on the management lever himself on the primary scheduled journeys of each the ICE2 and the ICE3.
Successes such because the arrival of the primary German high-speed prepare in Paris in June 2007 have been among the many defining moments of his time on the railroad. This additionally included the best catastrophe within the historical past of the German railroad, the ICE accident in Eschede in Decrease Saxony with greater than 100 deaths in 1998.
From the palms of the Federal Railroad
Lankes got here to what was then the Federal Railroad in 1982 and moved to the Federal Railroad Central Workplace in Munich in 1985. There he initially joined the challenge administration group for the ICE prototype ICE-V and was a part of the ICE1 from the very starting. “The primary focus of the ICE1 was on creating the motive force’s cab and the eating automotive,” he says.
Whereas the know-how group Siemens is constructing the ICE trains as normal contractor at present, the threads have been nonetheless working on the Bundesbahn itself. “At the moment there was a robust fragmentation of the rail car business and subsequently merely no German firm that might have been in a position to construct an entire ICE by itself,” emphasizes Lankes. “However that labored so properly, there was a transparent group spirit within the group.” France had already put its high-speed prepare TGV into operation in 1981.
Development of the high-speed strains
“Business, the railways and politics all had an curiosity in getting issues moving into Germany as properly,” says the engineer. The infrastructure additionally needed to be expanded. “Up till 1991 we had virtually no high-speed strains for the railways,” says Andreas Geißler, advisor for transport coverage on the Allianz professional Schiene curiosity group. The primary high-speed strains Stuttgart-Mannheim and Hanover-Würzburg have been constructed for the beginning of the ICE.
As well as, there was a scarcity of electrical energy in Germany, which was solely just lately reunified: “The primary ICE trains have been after all purely electrical and couldn’t get to the east in any respect as a result of the overhead strains have been lacking,” says Geissler. Berlin was not related to the route community till 1993.
Sluggish growth of the route
The state-owned Federal Railroad had additionally uncared for rural areas for years, dismantled quite a few strains and withdrew from the world. With the start of the high-speed period and, not least, the realignment of the railway as a personal firm in 1994, this step by step modified. “To at the present time, nonetheless, many neighboring international locations have carried out the growth of the rail community quicker than we’ve got,” says Geissler.
That’s nonetheless an issue for politicians, but additionally for Deutsche Bahn at present. The fourth era of the ICE is now in use. The group prepares the so-called Germany-Takt vor: It mustn’t solely cut back journey instances on the necessary high-speed routes, however above all higher hyperlink long-distance visitors with the world and enhance the share of rail in whole freight visitors. Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) can also be campaigning with different international locations to strengthen trans-European visitors with new connections and extra night time prepare strains.
Shared tracks in Germany
Critics concern that the present infrastructure just isn’t ample for this. In contrast to in France, for instance, the place the categorical trains run on their very own routes, long-distance, regional and freight visitors share the tracks in Germany. The federal authorities is investing billions in modernizing and digitizing the prevailing community. From the standpoint of the skeptics, nonetheless, he doesn’t spend sufficient cash on new routes.
It has been too lengthy in Germany Transport policy was dictated by the automotive foyer, says railway engineer Lankes. He calls Scheuer’s plans “encouraging”. How and when they are going to be carried out stays to be seen.
Lankes nonetheless enjoys touring within the ICE trains he helped construct. “After I get on an ICE1 as a passenger, there’s a familiarity, like a form of front room,” he says. By the way, one of many 5 ICE1s on the maiden rally in Might 1991 arrived at their vacation spot 1 / 4 of an hour late – with Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker on board, of all folks. This must also sound acquainted to many rail prospects.