Deutsche Bahn (DB) has launched a new 300 km/h ICE service between Berlin and Munich which will cut journey times between the two cities by up to two hours.
The December 10 timetable change marks the end of one of the country’s largest railway projects.
Around €10 billion has been invested by the German government to improve rail links between Berlin and Munich.
DB will now operate 35 ICE Sprinter trains each day on the new route. DB believes it can double its market share on the route and overtake air travel as the preferred means of transport between the two cities.
DB described this year’s timetable change as the biggest in its history, affecting a third of DB’s long-distance services.
The inauguration in Berlin was attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Minister Christian Schmidt. A series of other events were held at four other stations along the 500 km route.
In 2006, DB completed an upgrade of the railway between Berlin and Halle/Leipzig. Over the following 10 years, it delivered a combination of new and upgraded routes between Nuremberg, Erfurt, Leipzig, Halle and Berlin as part of the German Unity Traffic Project No. 8.
The final section of new line between Erfurt and Ebensfield, which closed a gap in the German high-speed rail network between Nuremburg and Erfurt, was completed earlier this year.
Federal Minister Christian Schmidt said: “The largest of all German Unification Traffic Projects has now gone into operation. We have reached the finishing line of a marathon race that began back in 1991.
“High-performance infrastructure in all parts of Germany is an essential requirement for the unity of our country.
“A major and final step has now been accomplished in rail transport.”