What are German InterCity trains like?

Deutsche Bahn's (German Railways) InterCity trains might not be as fast or glamorous as their high-speed ICE trains, but these second-rank expresses still reach 200 km/h (125mph) with smooth-riding and spacious carriages, and usually some form of catering.

These trains run on many internal routes in Germany, including Cologne-Hamburg and the Cologne-Mainz route via the scenic Rhine Valley.  They also run on international routes between Amsterdam & Berlin, and on some routes into Luxembourg, Austria & Switzerland.  Double-deck InterCity trains entered service on a couple of Intercity routes in 2016, notably Hanover-Leipzig and Cologne-Dresden.

A DB InterCity train at Hamburg Hbf

A German Intercity train at Hamburg Hbf.

2nd clas seats on a DB Intercity train

2nd class seating is usually in open-plan saloons like this, most seats unidirectional, but with some tables for 4.  Sometimes you'll find 2nd class compartment cars with side corridor and ten 6-seat compartments  Larger photo.

1st clas seats on an German IC train

Some first class cars are open-plan saloons (grossraumwagen in German) like this.  Larger photo.

1st class comparment on a Berlin to Amsterdam train   1st class 6-seat compartment on a Berlin to Amsterdam train

Other 1st class cars have seats in traditional 6-seat compartments with side corridor like this.  Sometimes you find both types on one train and have a choice, sometimes a given train only has one type in a given class, either saloon or compartment. Larger photo Larger photo.

Bistro car

Many Intercity trains used to have a bistro car, but these were getting old and were withdrawn from service on all German Intercity trains in December 2023.  They are replaced by an extra 1st class car and a refreshment trolley.  You are of course free to bring your own food & drink, including some beer or wine if you like.

Travel tips

Drop down table   Luggage rack   Power socket

Drop down tables at seats not at a fixed table.


Plenty of luggage space - even on a busy train.


European 2-pin power sockets at every seat or pair of seats.

Double-deck IC2 trains

Double-deck IC2 Intercity trains entered service in 2016 on a couple of routes, notably Cologne-Dresden and Hannover-Leipzig.  There are 1st & 2nd class sections both upstairs and downstairs.  It's just 7 steps, wide, easy and with good handrails from the entrance to the upper deck, and several steps down to the lower one.  DB have also taken over some former Westbahn double-deck electric units which also now operate some Intercity services.  However, there is no bistro or restaurant on IC2s.  IC2 trains are 'push-pull' which means they have a locomotive at one end and a driving cab at the other, and can operate in either direction with the locomotive either pulling or pushing.

1st class on an IC2 intercity train   A German IC2 intercity train

1st class on an IC2, upper deck.  Larger photo.


An IC2 at Hannover.

1st class on an IC2 intercity train   A German IC2 intercity train

An IC2 double-deck intercity train.


2nd class on an IC2, upper deck.  Larger photo.

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