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Home > Archives > Interior of Intercity Express train Bistro car, 1993.

Interior of Intercity Express train Bistro car, 1993.

Color photograph showing the interior of the Bistro car on the Intercity Express (ICE) trainset leased to Amtrak for testing; image dates to 1993.

Interior of Intercity Express train Bistro car, 1993.

Lead Service Attendant Justin Collins prepares to serve food on board the German-built Intercity Express (ICE) train's Bistro car.

As Amtrak explored the development of modern high-speed rail in the early 1990s, it leased two European high-speed electric trainsets for testing and revenue service on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Washington and New Haven, Conn., in 1992-1993: the Swedish X2000 and the German Intercity Express (ICE).

They were chosen because both could travel at higher speeds than conventional trains on existing main line track; unlike contemporary French and Japanese high-speed trainsets, they did not require new, dedicated tracks. During testing on the NEC, the X2000 achieved a speed of 155 mph and the Siemens-built ICE reached 165 mph. The equipment was also put on display in cities across the country.

“We were looking for public reaction to these operations and ran both trains in revenue service on Metroliner schedules,” says then-Amtrak Director of Media Relations Cliff Black. “They were a big hit with the public, as one might imagine. They were sleek-looking, modern, comfortable and smacked of the future...the American public's appetite for new, higher-speed trains was whetted.”

Photo from collection of Julie Byrne.