InterCityExperimental (ICE-V) (class 410, 810)

The ICE-V (V = Versuch = Experiment) was built as an experimental prototype, for testing the components of future high-speed trains and demonstrating the possibilities of them to the public.

Pictures of the ICE-V

Styling, spotting features

The exterior design of the ICE-V already features many of the elements known from the ICE1: the rounded front, the slightly inward-slanted sidewalls, the mirroring window band and the oval door windows. The livery is light grey (a bit darker than the ICE1) with a reddish-pink stripe along the train that ends at the sides of the nose (and does not wrap around the front).

There are some differences distinguishing the ICE-V from the ICE1. Of course, the trainset is shorter (max. 3 intermediate carriages). The carriages are shorter, narrower and lower (the roof of the locomotives is a bit higher) and their profile is different, with two barely visible creases in the lower sidewall instead of one sharper one. One very typical feature of the ICE-V are the streamlined diaphragms between the carriages, giving a totally smooth surface on straight sections. (Apparently these were too complicated for the series, so the ICE1 and ICE2 have simpler diaphragms, leaving visible gaps between the cars.) The curves of the front are rounder (some say more `feminine'), the arrangement of the ventilation grilles at the sides of the power units is different and asymmetric, the cab doors are in front of the first grilles.

Originally, the lower front lights were single without any opening between them. In 1994, for testing the automatic coupler in development for the ICE2, the ICE-V has been rebuilt with a new nose, an automatic coupler behind front doors and new double headlights similar to those of the ICE1, but in a higher position. Now it looks similar to the ICE2 from the front, but can still be distinguished as the red stripe does not wrap around the front as it does on the ICE2.

Train composition

410 001-2745 001-0power unit 1
810 003-4746 003-5measuring car with kitchen
810 001-8746 001-91st class/lounge (28+10 seats)
810 002-6746 002-71st class/galley/2nd class (18+27 seats)
410 002-0745 002-8power unit 2

The ICE-V was renumbered in 1993 from class 410 and 810 to 745 and 746 (as a `work car'), because it is not used in revenue service. These numbers were changed back to 410/810 in 1994 when the ICE-V was rebuilt for testing ICE2 components. Class 410 is now also used for other experimental units derived from the ICE2.

Technical data

power unitmiddle cartrain
length20.20 m24.34 m113.42 m
width3.07 m2.93 m
height3.82 m3.65 m
bogie distance11.46 m17.00 m
axle distance3.00 m2.80 m
wheel diameter1.00 m0.92 m
mass77.7 t44.7 t (001)
45.5 t (002)
50.5 t (003)
296.1 t (empty)
304 t (full)
power (cont.)2800 kW5600 kW
power (max.)4200 kW8400 kW
top speed350 km/h
seats (1st class)46
seats (2nd class)27
seats (lounge)10
weight/length2.68 t/m
seats/length0.73 seats/m
weight/seat3.57 t/seat
power/weight18.91 kW/t
power/seat67.47 kW/seat

The ICE-V is driven by asynchronous 3-phase AC induction motors, as they have been tested in the class 120. A high-voltage cable under the roof allows to transmit the electric power from one pantograph to both locomotives. This was necessary because if both pantographs were up at high speed, the second pantograph would have difficulties following the catenary swinging after the first one. The 810 001-8 was delivered with new MAN trucks with pneumatic suspension, the other two cars have more conventional MD52-350 trucks with steel springs. A number of different bogie designs were tested under the ICE-V cars over the years.


The measuring car is full of technology for measuring what happens at all parts of the train during the tests. Its interior is variable, and was rebuilt many times for new experiments. It also has a small staff kitchen and toilet. One of the most visible exterior features of the measuring car is a camera on the roof for watching the pantograph during high speed tests.

The other two cars have been equipped for demonstrating a possible interior of the future ICE generations, with many new high-tech features such as monitors and telephones at the seat. The first demonstration car has toilets at the ends and a lounge with benches and tables taking up 1/3 of the space inbetween, the rest has spacious first class seats in 2+1 arrangement, with a wardrobe in the middle. The second demonstration car has a toilet, a small galley and a small lounge in the center. At one side is a first class room with 18 seats in 2+1 arrangement, at the other side is a 2nd class room with 27 seats in 2+2 arrangement. For the luggage, there are boxes above the seats. The windows have motor-operated venetian blinds between the inner panes (not a new idea, some TEE trains had this long ago). The interior was styled by Alexander Neumeister, who later designed the ICE3 and the ICT too.

History of the ICE-V

The ICE-V is a government-funded research project. Its costs were shared by the BMFT (federal ministry of research and technology), the DB (Deutsche Bundesbahn) and the West German railway industry.

The idea for German high-speed trains goes back to about 1970. Class 403/404, a four-car train for 200 km/h with all axles powered and (originally) an active tilting mechanism, of which only three trainsets were built (later in service as Lufthansa Airport Express, now retired), could be seen as an early forerunner of the ICE.

However, there were only very few lines where trains could actually reach 200 km/h. The new lines Hannover - Würzburg and Mannheim - Stuttgart were originally planned for mixed traffic with up to 200 km/h. The idea to use them for higher speeds didn't come up until the French TGV demonstrated from 1981 on how successful high speed trains can be.

Projects from the seventies for a `RS-VD' (Rad/Schiene-Versuchs- und Demonstrationsfahrzeug = Wheel/Rail Experimental and Demonstration Vehicle), which would have been a short train of three power units, and a high speed test line Rheine - Spelle - Freren were formulated, but not realized. Around 1980 came the decision to build new high speed trains for the new lines under construction. In 1980, Henschel (now part of Adtranz) rebuilt the experimental diesel-electric locomotive 202 003-0 with new `Um-An' bogies for (theoretically) 350 km/h and a streamlined front. The bogies of the ICE-V were derived from this concept.

In 1982, the DB decided to order an experimental train, to test which components would be successful in a high speed train that could run on the new high-speed lines, but also to give the public an impression of future high speed traffic. As the construction of the high-speed lines was delayed for various reasons, there would be enough time to test this train before opening regular service. So the train, now called `Intercity Experimental' (ICE), was ordered in 1982 and built in a hurry in numerous railway factories because it should be finished in 1985 for the 150th anniversary of the first German steam railway Nürnberg - Fürth. During this time, ICE should only be the name of the experimental train, there was no decision yet about the name of the series trains (one idea was `HGZ', Hochgeschwindigkeitszug = High Speed Train, similar to the French `TGV'). The name `ICE-V' came up when it was necessary to distinguish it from the series trains `ICE1'.

The locomotives were built by Krupp (410 001-2) and Thyssen-Henschel (410 002-0). Two of the middle cars (810 001-8 and 810 003-4) were built by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm, the third (810 002-6) by Duewag and Linke-Hofmann-Busch.

In 1985, first the locomotives and then the middle cars were delivered. A speed of 324 km/h was reached in November. The train did a demonstration tour through the DB territory and was the star at the 150th anniversary of German railways on 7th December 1985. In 1986, there were some `surprise' demonstrations as additional train in front of regular InterCity trains. But most time, the ICE-V was experimenting, first on the upgraded line Gütersloh-Neubeckum, then (from 1988 on) on the brand-new high-speed line Fulda-Würzburg.

On the 1st May 1988, the ICE-V established a new world record of 406.9 km/h on this line near Gemünden. The trainset was shortened to two intermediate cars, and the overhead wire was replaced by a new, specially tested wire of higher mechanical tension. Since the 5th December 1989, when a modified TGV Atlantique reached 515.3 km/h, the SNCF has the record back.

The ICE-V appeared several times in the light of big politics, to demonstrate the state of German technology. In 1989, when Michail Gorbachov visited the FRG and rode the ICE-V, decals with the flags of Nordrhein-Westfalen and the USSR were applied to the locomotives. Gorbachov gave an interview in the lounge of the 810 001-8.

When the regular service was started in 1991, the demonstration tours of the ICE-V stopped, but it was still being used for experiments, now a bit more in the background.

In 1994, the locomotives were rebuilt with new noses, with automatic couplers behind front doors, to test the coupler of the ICE2. There were some test runs during the winter in the Alps, to test how this coupler works in snowy environment.

The ICE-V continued to be used for its original purpose, the testing of new components. For example, it was used as `super-locomotive' (with one middle car) for pulling a modified Talgo-Pendular train at a speed of 345 km/h on the high-speed line Hannover-Göttingen. It was one of the few trains of the world ready for speeds of 350 km/h and more without modifications, so there were enough uses for it whenever something (such as a bogie or a pantograph) needed to be tested at that speed. Another purpose were regular checks of the track on the high speed lines.

On 1st May 1998 the ICE-V was taken out of service as it was due for overhaul. It is currently stored in the research and technology centre of München-Freimann, no decision about its future has been taken yet.


Models of the ICE-V


Märklin had a model of the ICE-V for the AC system and Märklin Digital. It had remarkable technical features such as synchronized Faulhaber motors in both power units, working reproductions of the streamlined diaphragms and interior light in all cars, but it was also rather shortened and had inaccurate pantographs. The model came out in a number of slightly different versions and was discontinued after Märklin released the ICE 1. Due to its high price, it didn't sell well, so it is traded for high collector prices today.

Fleischmann used to produce a model of the ICE-V for the DC system and FMZ. Technically it was simpler than the Märklin model (with a conventional motor in one power unit only), and its short coupling only looked good on straight tracks, but it was visually more accurate with a less reduced length scale, nicely reproduced pantographs and better looking window bands. This model was discontinued too as Fleischmann started producing the ICE 1.


Fleischmann made an ICE-V model in N scale which was very similar to the H0 model. Now discontinued.

Minitrix also produced an ICE-V model in N scale, which was a bit less detailed. Now discontinued.


Märklin is making an ICE-V model in Z scale, the only ICE-V model still in production. It is the only ICE model in Z scale, which is a bit paradox as Z would be the best scale to model a long ICE 1 ....