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Germany's fast and smooth new train.

ON JUNE 2, 1991, GERMANY rejoined France and Japan in the business of very fast and extremely comfortable trains. Germany's train, the electric-powered ICE (InterCityExpress), does the nine-stop, 450-mile trip between Hamburg and Munich in 5 hours and 59 minutes, a 40-minute improvement over the fastest previous service.

The goal of ICE has been to move people between cities twice as fast as a car does and half as fast as a plane. At its top speed of 156 mph, it indeed achieves that double goal. Special tracks, along with the train's design, make such a speed possible.

Comfort and convenience totally beat what you get on an airplane or in a highway vehicle. There's no crowding, lurching, or bumping--the ride is smooth as glass.

Each softly padded reclining individual seat has its own armrests and a receptacle where you can plug in rented earphones to tune into several prerecorded programs and radio. Smoking is confined to one car.

Each train has 9 to 14 cars. First-class cars carry 48 people, second-class 66. The difference is essentially a matter of inches or fractions of inches in seat widths and spacing between seats, but you pay 50 percent more for first class. You can buy tickets aboard; a reservation guarantees you a seat but isn't mandatory. A second-class ticket between any two cities costs about half the price of a business-class air ticket for the same trip.

A 20-YEAR PROJECT

In the early 1970s, the Germans anticipated today's clogged highways and airlanes and began planning this system. In the early 1980s, they built and tested experimental engines, cars, and track. They spent the last six years manufacturing and installing the current system.

Daily, 12 trains run each way between Hamburg and Munich; they average 75 mph for the whole trip, including stops. Cost for the full route is $130 second class, $195 first; the nine stops en route include Hanover, Gottingen, and Frankfurt.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Beyond the West; electric-powered InterCityExpress
Author:Williamson, Joseph F.
Publication:Sunset
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Words:322
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