Possibilities for the successor of the ICE 3

ICE 4 is the name of the optional 50 trains that the DB AG has ordered from the ICE 3 consortium.

At first, two different high-capacity versions were considered:

However, operating the wider version would only be possible on a few dedicated lines with wider clearing (the currently existing high-speed lines, some upgraded lines and possible future lines), and the 3+2 seating arrangement is unpopular among the passengers. A bi-level train would probably be heavier and have space problems. Both versions would need to be a completely new development again, with costly and time-consuming design and experimentation period. Therefore it seems more likely that the ICE 4 will be based on the ICE 3 carbodies.

The tilting ICE

It is now very probable (though they have not yet been ordered) that 45 units of an ICE 3-N with active tilting system will be built from 2002 on (not to be confused with the ICT, which is primarily for old lines). This train is designed for lines that consist of both high speed sections and old, curvy lines - the majority of ICE lines today. It will be able to travel at higher speed on all lines. A modification of the ICE 3 carbody is not necessary because it is already narrow enough not to exceed the clearance when tilted.

High capacity options

During a TV show in spring 1999, Johannes Ludewig, the chairman of the Deutsche Bahn AG, has brought the double-deck ICE back into the discussion, as a possible solution for highly occupied lines. Rumours say that there might be a call for tenders for such a train in 2000 or 2001.

These pictures show a proposal by DWA/Bombardier and IFS-Designatelier from 1997 for a double deck "ICE 4 DD":

In this concept, the end cars have transformers and inverters in the lower deck. The middle cars are partly articulated (two carbodies on three bogies).

The ICE offer for Spain

For the high speed line Barcelona - Madrid in Spain (350 km/h top speed), three types of rolling stock are being offered:

Further possibilities for future ICE versions

The ICE has still some potential for weight reduction. One way towards this would be an articulated train composition with fewer wheelsets. The aluminium carbody could be replaced by compound materials. It is desirable to lower the floor so that the entrance becomes more comfortable even from low platforms - this implies alternative solutions for wheel arrangements as the wheel diameter can't be reduced much. The heavy transformer poses a great problem in these articulated concepts with distributed drive technology, so engineers are seeking for more leightweight solutions - for example, the frequency could be changed to several kHz before transforming.

The ICE 21 project (see picture) was originally planned for testing such elements, but the industry and the DB AG dropped the project for now as no agreement on the funding could be found. It seems that for the next years, all ICE versions will be derived from the ICE 3 in some way.