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August 2002 - Nr. 8


The Editor
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Alpine Festival
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Fotograph in Amerika
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Thirst for Beer
On the "Green Hill"
ICE Rail Link
Neues Wein-Prädikat
Racing History

New ICE 3 Rail Link Connects Frankfurt and Cologne in Record Time

TWIG - The era of nearly 200-mph rail travel has begun in Germany. On Thursday (July 25), the sleek, new-generation Intercity Express (ICE 3) train made its maiden voyage along 110 miles of custom-built track that now links the cities of Frankfurt and Cologne. The train sped 700 invited guests, among them first lady Doris Schroeder-Koepf and Transportation Minister Kurt Bodewig, to their destination in just 76 minutes - an hour faster than any other mode of transport between the two cities. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was waiting to meet the train in Frankfurt, where an opening ceremony was held. Schroeder expressed admiration for the "remarkable achievement in engineering" and said ICE 3 technology is not only important for Germany, but for all of Europe, since the Cologne-Frankfurt route will soon be linked into the European high-speed network. The chancellor also praised the economic and ecological advantages of getting travelers off the crowded roads and onto the rails.

German Rail’s six-year, six-billion euro project, the largest in its history, required the design and construction of 18 bridges and 30 tunnels to provide the most level, and thus swiftest ride. The train and rail system, developed by German engineering giant Siemens AG, provides a remarkably smooth and comfortable ride. Newly built stretches of track rest on concrete, rather than the gravel base used for traditional cross-tie rails. This keeps the train snugly in its tracks, and eliminates the "shudder" experienced on some fast trains. Careful engineering also prevents passengers from suffering any discomfort caused by the powerful centrifugal force exerted when the train whips around curves.

Eberhard Krummheuer, who previewed the ICE 3 experience for the Handelsblatt business daily, reports the train’s "cockpit" is separated from the first passenger car by a simple pane of glass. The view over the shoulder of the ICE 3 engineers gives thrill-seeking passengers a glimpse of the train’s roller-coaster ride over mountains and through valleys. With incline grades of up to 4%, the new rail line is markedly steeper than other routes; only the ICE 3 can climb these ascents while maintaining speeds of 160 mph. But because the train spends much of the journey in tunnels or behind noise-control barriers, views of the scenic Rhine valley through which it passes are reduced to quick clips. However, passengers will have other diversions, provided by state-of-the art audio and video entertainment systems in each car.

The new route was designed to reduce dependence on the overburdened A3 autobahn it parallels and to link two of Germany’s most important economic centers more closely. The train stops at four stations built to service the route: Frankfurt Airport, Siegburg/Bonn, Montabaur and Limburg. It is hope that these will serve as hubs for economic growth and development in those areas. Residents of smaller towns along the old rail line are dismayed that their stations will be by-passed and fear tourism revenues may dry up as a result. But German Rail says its new service targets business travelers, who want to make the trip as swiftly as possible and are not likely to stop off in the scenic villages anyway.

Regular service on the ICE 3 will open for the general public on August 1. A one-way economy class ticket on the new rail link costs 53.6 euros. For more information on tickets and schedules (in German only) visit http://www.bahn.de.

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