This article is about the InterCity system in Continental Europe in general. For other uses, see Intercity.
InterCity logo of the Deutsche Bundesbahn, 1971–1991

InterCity (commonly abbreviated IC on timetables and tickets) is the classification applied to certain long-distance passenger train services in Europe. Such trains (in contrast to regional, local, or commuter trains) generally call at major stations only.

The Inter-City Rapid Transit Company was an Ohio interurban company, which began operations in 1930 as it had purchased its route from the Northern Ohio Traction & Light Company. It remained in operation till 1940.[1]

The use of Inter-City was reborn in the United Kingdom: A daily train of that name was introduced in 1950, running between the cities of London and Birmingham. This usage can claim to be the origin of all later usages world-wide.

In 1966 British Rail introduced the brand InterCity for all of its express train routes, and in 1986 the term was adopted by the InterCity sector of British Rail. Following the privatisation of the railways in Great Britain the term is no longer in official use there, although many people still refer to fast long-distance services as InterCity trains. The brand still exists though, and according to DfT is owned by them.

In West Germany, the Deutsche Bundesbahn first used the name (then written Intercity) in 1968, denoting special first-class services on the F-Zug train network. Many of the Class VT 11.5 diesel multiple units formerly used on the TEE network were converted for early Intercity services.

In Switzerland, the InterCity brand replaced SwissExpress in the 1982 schedule.

In Norway, intercity (later also written InterCity) trains were introduced in 1975 on Vestfoldbanen (the Oslo-Skien service), later also on Østfoldbanen (Oslo-Halden). They were (relatively) fast trains on distances up to 2–3 hours. Today, the name is used not on the trains, but on the main lines from Oslo to Skien, Lillehammer, and Halden – and also on the line Ringeriksbanen, which is under construction from Oslo to Hønefoss.

An international variant of the InterCity are the EuroCity (EC) trains which were introduced in May 1987. EuroCity trains consist of high-standard, Air conditioned coaches and are usually subject to on-board border controls. EuroCity trains are run by a variety of operators, for example EuroCity trains running in Germany can be made up by rolling stock of either the SBB (Switzerland), ÖBB (Austria) and the SNCF (France), but also less commonly by the Czech ČD and the Hungarian MÁV.

DB InterCity cab car in Bremen Hbf

InterCity by country


Austrian InterCity train in Wien Meidling

The Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) have operated IC services since 1991. However, contrary to most other countries, these are often little more than regional rail, as most long-distance, high-standard trains in Austria are likely to be EuroCity (EC) services, even when not leaving the Austrian borders (named ÖBB-EuroCity until 2011). Modernised stock of Eurofima coaches is used under the brand name ÖBB-InterCity (OIC) mainly on the Austrian Western and Southern Railways from Vienna to Salzburg and Villach.

The ÖBB also deployed electric multiple unit trains, from 2006 also three ICE T (Class 411, named ÖBB 4011) trainsets in cooperation with the Deutsche Bahn, currently running from Vienna to Frankfurt via Linz and Passau. ÖBB high-speed rail service is provided by Railjet (RJ) trains.

Since 2011, there is an hourly express train service on the Western Railway operated by WESTbahn, the only long-distance competitor of the ÖBB.


The InterCity service from Vienna to Salzburg is going to be expanded for an hourly service to Landeck via Innsbruck by December 2008. Also, the service from Vienna to Graz is going to operate hourly by December 2008.

InterCity stops in Austria:


InterCity Amsterdam – Brussels

InterCity trains link all major cities of Belgium. Some of them serve also destinations outside the country. The IC between Liège and Brussels travels at 200 km/h on the HSL 2. However, because of the density of the train network with many connecting lines and the many small- and medium-sized cities in Belgium, most IC services also call at smaller stations or continue as local trains on branch lines.


HŽ series 1142 locomotive hauling an InterCity train at the Zagreb Main Station
ICN Tilting Train on the Zagreb – Split route

InterCity trains in Croatia mainly serve domestic routes from Zagreb (capital) to Split and from Zagreb to Osijek except one international train connecting Zagreb and Vinkovci. Speeds are up to 160 km/h between Slavonski Brod and Vinkovci. The coaches used are similar to the ones used in Germany by DB.

Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the IC or Express trains service the following routes:

Most of the IC are served by trains of state-owned operator České dráhy with speeds up to 160 km/h but they have been converted into category Express in 2012 timetable. The other is served by trains of private operator RegioJet with speed up to 140 km/h. No surcharge is applied to IC trains but RegioJet runs reservation compulsory trains. Third private passenger operator LEO Express introduced express InterCity train service between Prague and Ostrava in November 2012, with speeds up to 160 km/h.[2]

The state-owned operator České dráhy also serves line PragueOstrava (with some connections extended to Bohumín) with Pendolino trainsets under designation "SuperCity", which conforms to IC standard. A compulsory reservation is applied on these trains.


The Intercity network of the Danish State Railways consists of IC trains and their faster version, Lyntog (Lightning Train), which is identical but with less stops. Each train type operates hourly between the eastern terminus at Copenhagen and westwards to OdenseÅrhusÅlborg, and less frequently to alternative destinations in Jutland. These are run by IC3 diesel materiel since most of the network is not electrified. There are also electrical IC trains run by IR4s in an hourly schedule from Copenhagen westwards to Odense and alternately Esbjerg/Sønderborg. This means during most of the day there are three trains an hour between Copenhagen and Odense. Quite unusual in the world, some trains will consist of both electrically and diesel-powered units coupled together. Being the only option for long-distance and some short-distance travel, there is no surcharge for IC and Lyntog. They have a maximum speed of 180 km/h. Additionally, there a few IR trains during Friday and Sunday peak hours between Copenhagen and Århus. These are locomotive-run and have bilevel cars. The IC3 trains are planned to be replaced by new IC4 trains, originally in 2001. They first ran with passengers in 2008, but haven't nearly replaced the IC3 yet.


An Sr2 locomotive pulls a double-decker IC² train at Hämeenlinna.

In Finland, VR has operated InterCity trains between major Finnish cities since August 1988.[3][4] The first routes were Helsinki–Vaasa and Helsinki–Imatra,[3] which later expanded to all major cities and include for instance Helsinki–Tampere–Oulu–Rovaniemi, Helsinki–Turku, Helsinki–Iisalmi and Helsinki–Joensuu. InterCity trains have become the standard as the Finnish long distance rail travel mainstay, and their predecessors, blue-carriaged express trains, are being withdrawn off the schedules.[5] The train tickets include an additional surcharge compared to ordinary express trains: 17 to 27% depending of the journey length.

VR operates both ordinary InterCity trains (IC) and entirely double-decker trains (IC²).[6] An ordinary IC train usually consists of 3 to 4 double-decker cars and 3 to 5 ordinary IC cars. In addition the train has a restaurant car.[4] IC² trains consist only of double-decker cars and have no separate restaurant car with a sales trolley moving about in the train.[6] However, due to high demand, VR ordered double-decker restaurant cars from Transtech in early 2011. The first carriages should be operational in 2013.[7] IC cars have separately ventilated smoking cabins instead of smokers' compartments; IC² trains are smoke-free.[6]

The trains run at a maximum speed of 140–160 km/h for single-decker trains[4] and up to 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph) for double-deckers,[6] which was VR's aim in 1988.[3] Only the Pendolino and Allegro trains are faster than InterCity trains in Finland.


In 2006, the SNCF rebranded Corail, Téoz and Lunéa services as 'Intercités', a brand for all of their 'classic' services day and night.


In Germany, the InterCity network was launched in 1971 to accompany and eventually replace the Trans Europ Express trains. At first, IC services were first-class only, often using TEE stock and the then-new Class 103 locomotives. Trains ran bi-hourly. DB paid a royalty fee to BR for many years for the use of the brand name.

In 1978, it was decided to expand the IC network to services with both first and second class, and so the new scheme, called IC '79 was launched in 1979 with the motto "Jede Stunde, jede Klasse" ("every hour, every class") to emphasize its new structure. Large numbers of air-conditioned open coach cars, the Bpmz 291, were built for InterCity services, which at first were using the TEE colour scheme. In 1985, with many of the TEE trains gone and the introduction of the InterRegio, the network was expanded again, now covering virtually any major city of then-West Germany. It faced further changes after the German reunification and the introduction of the InterCityExpress in the early 1990s.

Today, after the abolition of the InterRegio in 2002, most long distance connections in Germany are either IC or ICE trains; they most commonly offer at least bi-hourly service. Maximum speed for an IC is 200 km/h.

See also: Schnellzug


Intercity train services in Hungary:

The Hungarian intercity trains are operated by MAV-START, the Hungarian railway company.


In the Republic of Ireland, Iarnród Éireann introduced the brand name InterCity in 1984, replacing the previous name of Mainline, which had been introduced in 1976. Initially applied to services operated by British Rail Mark 3 trains, it was later extended to include all services not part of the Dublin Suburban Rail network. Today the brand encompasses services between Dublin and Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, Westport, Rosslare Europort, Ballina, and Ennis, as well as some regional services. A new InterCity logo was introduced in 2006, though the vast majority of rolling stock bore the original script logo and orange-tan livery until the final Mark 3 set was withdrawn in 2009. Since Ireland completed its replacement of the old Mark 2 and Mark 3 stock in 2012, it has one of the most modern InterCity fleets in the world.

Northern Ireland Railways and Iarnród Éireann both formerly operated trains on the DublinBelfast line under the InterCity brand, however this was replaced with the revived Enterprise brand name upon the introduction of the De Dietrich Ferroviaire rolling stock in 1997. This, coupled with the subsequent withdrawal of most coaching stock bearing the logo and the rebrand to the Translink name, means that the InterCity brand has largely disappeared from Northern Ireland Railways.


Trenitalia Intercity

In Italy, InterCity trains constitute a capillary network that links the main cities across the peninsula. There are over 80 day (Intercity) and night (Intercity Notte) services. The major north-south connections are Turin-Lecce (night trains only), Milan-Bari, Bolzano/Bozen-Bari, Venice-Bari, Milan-Rome and Trieste-Naples. In the south, Intercity connections consist of Rome-Palermo, Rome-Bari, Rome-Naples and Rome-Reggio di Calabria. In the north, Intercity connections consist of Turin-Genoa, Milan-Genoa, Milan-Livorno and Venice-Florence.

The fleet consists in first and second class wagons with open-seat or six-seat compartments. Night trains include sleeper compartments of three types: bunker for four travellers, two-bed "double" sleeper and one-bed "single" sleeper. There are, however, no showering facilities on all Intercity Notte trains. The newer wagons, called InterCity Plus, have their interiors renovated and sockets for PC or mobile phones added to each compartment. However Excelsior cabins only shown on the Rome To Sicily night train claim to have their own toilet and shower in the cabin, information from Trenitalia web pages :

The cars Excelsior, available on some trains Night, offer you services comparable to those of a high-level Hotel, every vehicle available cabins : • Single: a cabin with a bed, • Double rooms : one twin cabin, • Doubles: a large suite with double bed with all the amenities. Each cabin Excelsior E4 instead offers 4 beds for travel from 1 to 4 persons : Single: a cabin with a bed, Doubles : one twin cabin, Triple : a three-bed cabin Quadruple : a four-bed cabin All cabins are equipped with shower and wash basin with private toilet . High cab there is a reception with bar service. Excelsior single and double cabins are available from all sales channels, while the triple and quadruple only at the ticket and authorized travel agencies . If travel in these cars you must have a personal identification document.


Dutch Intercity network

Intercity trains are very common in the Netherlands, but may differ from each other. While some intercity trains only call at larger stations, some other may also call at smaller stations or at all intermediate stations along a short stretch of its route. Hence, some stations may be served by one intercity train while another may pass it. Elst, for example, is served by the Zwolle to Roosendaal intercity, but not by the Den Helder to Nijmegen intercity, also passing Elst. Often, intercity trains run as local trains along the very end of its route. For example, the Hague Central to Leeuwarden intercity runs as regular intercity until Zwolle, serving larger stations only, but running as local train between Zwolle and Leeuwarden, serving all intermediate stations.

Rolling stock used mostly for intercity services in the Netherlands is IRM/VIRM. DD-AR trains have been converted to be used as New Intercity Double deckers and have been introduced to parts of the intercity network. Also, older ICM (formerly known as Koploper) EMUs are frequently seen on intercity routes. ICRm coaches, pulled by a TRAXX locomotive, can be seen on international stretches and the Intercity Direct.


In Poland IC trains operated by PKP Intercity S.A. service the following routes:

It should be noted that, apart from a single railway line (line nr 4, aka Centralna Magistrala Kolejowa–Central Railway Route), average speeds are much lower.

These trains mostly use the locomotive named Eurosprinter (Taurus), EP09, sometimes EP08.


In Portugal, InterCidades trains operated by state-owned Comboios de Portugal (CP) run in the following routes:


Currently InterCity lines link the capital Bucharest to Braşov, Arad, Oradea, Cluj-Napoca, Târgu Mureș, Galați (all once daily), Suceava, Iași (twice daily), Piatra Neamţ (once daily), Bacău (4x daily), Ploiești (6x daily), Craiova (twice daily) and Timişoara (once daily). There are also international trains branded as InterCity between the Hungarian capital, Budapest and some Transylvanian cities such as Cluj-Napoca, Târgu Mureş, Braşov, and others. These trains usually have specific names (Harghita, Ady Endre, etc.).

In the case of IC service running partially or totally on electrified lines as well as international IC-s locomotive-hauled trains are used. For some trains running exclusively on unelectrified lines (mainly in northern Transilvania) Siemens Desiro DMU-s are preferred. These trainsets look similar to standard Desiro DMU-s used for regional trains but have a different interior design with more comfortable seating.

All IC trains use 1st and 2nd class coaches with air conditioning, having automatic doors and a higher level of comfort than InterRegio trains. In order to compete with regional airlines, CFR Călători introduced special Business class coaches on the IC trains running between Oradea and Bucharest and Timişoara and Bucharest. The new class can be divided into two slightly different premium service levels, Business Exclusiv (1A) and Business Standard (1B). All of these coaches have wireless internet and wall sockets in order to permit the use of laptops, 4 channel audio system, bar, Exclusiv further providing larger space per customer, special leather seating and LCD screens for each seat.

Maximum speed is 140 km/h on Bucharest-Campina, 120 km/h on all other lines.


Currently InterCity lines link the capital Belgrade to Novi Sad, Subotica and Prijepolje.[8]


In the Slovak Republic, InterCity trains run between the capital Bratislava and Košice (some IC trains continued from Bratislava to Vienna). In the past, the names of some of these trains used to be sold for commercial use (IC Šariš named by beer producer, IC Zelmer named by an electronic devices producer, IC Slovenka named by a magazine, IC Mora, IC Gorenje, both named after kitchen appliances producers). In 2012, no IC train had commercial name. All IC trains are named by natural monuments (IC Tatran, IC Kriváň, IC Gerlach, IC Rysy, IC Chopok, IC Ďumbier). All IC trains are subject to compulsory reservation to make comfort as high as possible. The seat reservation is included in the ticket price. The price varies, depending on the day of travel, and the time of reservation (the sooner you buy a ticket, the lower the price).

In the past, there were also 3 other InterCity services: IC 400/407 Donau (Danube) between Bratislava and Vienna, IC 532/533 Rákoczi from Košice to Budapest and IC 536/537 Hornád from Košice to Pécs. On this train passengers could travel without a reservation or surcharge, since it is impossible to use them for domestic transport in Slovakia.

All InterCity trains consist of new comfortable cars which are fully air conditioned.

First class and a restaurant car are available on all IC trains.

Maximum speed between Bratislava and Nové Mesto nad Váhom has been increased in the recent years and is now 160 km/h. On the rest of the route, maximum speed varies from 80 to 140 km/h. There is a large reconstruction under way between Nové Mesto nad Váhom and Žilina. After the reconstruction is finished, it will be possible to increase maximum speed of this part of the route to 160 km/h.


Intercity trains in Slovenia mainly serve domestic routes, like running from Ljubljana (capital) to Celje, Ptuj, and Maribor. Comfort in Slovenian Intercity trains is not as good as in other countries. Coaches serving main routes are usually old. Some IC trains do not offer first class and restaurant carriage. The type of cars is basically the same as the cars of ÖBB, however, the cars are slightly older with no sign of renovation. Additionally, there are also available older Pendolino electric multiple tilting units ETR 310 (SŽ series 310) labeled as ICS lines connecting Slovenian largest cities, Ljubljana and Maribor and the Mediterranean region of Slovenia, Koper.


An InterCity train in Sweden

During the 1980s, InterCity denoted trains of the highest standard in Sweden, serving as a fast and comfortable connection between major Swedish cities. Trains used to be set up of the most modern cars, always including a restaurant car. During the 1990s the Swedish State Railways introduced the new X 2000 units which replaced the InterCity trains in this role. Since then, the InterCity trains serve an auxiliary role, calling at smaller stations and providing a cheaper alternative for the costly X 2000. They are set up of modernised cars pulled by Rc6 locomotives with a maximum speed of 160 km/h. They serve the following lines:

Apart from the SJ, there are other train operators in Sweden who also run trains of a similar type. Only SJ, however, uses the name "InterCity".


IC 2000 with the control car leading the train
ICN train (SBB RABDe 500)
An InterCity train that consists of refurbished standard type IV carriages with the control car leading the train

Swiss InterCity services started in 1982, replacing the Swiss Express on the line Geneva-St. Gallen. There is no surcharge for InterCity services in Switzerland and the rolling stock consists of three types of formations:[9]

If needed, two ICN trains can be combined to double the passenger capacity. In addition, several type IV carriages can be attached to an IC 2000 train set on the other side of the locomotive, especially if a group reservation requires extra carriages.

All carriages are air conditioned. Each train formation has first and second class carriages and, in most cases, a restaurant/bistro carriage. The availability of power sockets is constantly improved, sometimes even in second class. The maximal speed of all train types is 200 km/h, except for about half of type IV carriages that have not yet been upgraded and have a maximum speed of 160 km/h.

InterCity trains serve most of Swiss cities and provide direct connections from Zurich and Geneva airports. The InterCity routes within Switzerland according to 2009–2010 schedule include:

as well as the following routes served by tilting ICNs:


Intercity+ (min. 90 km/h) train services in Ukraine:

These services are currently operated by Hyundai Rotem HRCS2 and Škoda UZ class 675 trains. Intercity+ trains are operated by Ukrainian fastspeed railway company

Intercity (70 km/h – 90 km/h) train services in Ukraine:

Intercity trains are operated by Ukrzaliznytsya railway company

United Kingdom

The term "Inter-City" was first used by state railway company British Rail in 1966, to brand all its longer-distance, higher-speed services (the hyphen was dropped shortly afterwards, changing the name to "InterCity"). The brand was closely associated with a new design of carriage, the Mk2 which revolutionised levels of comfort on the system. The system was hugely successful and became one of the world's few profitable public railway services.

Today, Britain's railways having been privatised, InterCity trains in the UK are operated by many different train companies including Abellio Greater Anglia, CrossCountry, Great Western Railway, Virgin Trains, Virgin Trains East Coast, East Midlands Trains, Hull Trains and Grand Central. Most of these companies operate their services from one of the many London termini, with CrossCountry being the exception, running from Cornwall to Scotland. If travelling via London it is often necessary to change stations: a journey from Norwich to Cardiff would require a transfer from London Liverpool Street to London Paddington station via the London Underground.

Currently, InterCity trains in United Kingdom use Intercity 125 (Class 43 power car + 8/9 Mark 3 coaches, also named as HST), Intercity 225 (Class 91 + 9 Mark 4 coaches), Class 90 + 8/9 Mark 3 coaches + Driving van trailer, Voyager family classes 220, 221 & 222 (4–7 coach DEMUs), class 180 (5 coach DMUs) and class 390 (9 or 11 coach EMUs) on the Intercity lines.

The British Government have named their project to replace High Speed Trains as the Intercity Express Programme.

See also


  3. 1 2 3 Hämäläinen, Raimo (1988). "Mannermaisuutta kiskoille". Tekniikan Maailma (in Finnish). Yhtyneet Kuvalehdet (13): 42–43. ISSN 0355-4287.
  4. 1 2 3 "InterCity". VR Group. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  5. "VR:n siniset junavaunut poistuvat uusien vihreiden vaunujen tieltä". Salon Seudun Sanomat (in Finnish). 18 May 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "InterCity2". VR Group. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  7. "VR tilaa kaksikerroksisia ravintolavaunuja". STT (in Finnish). Iltalehti. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  9. "SBB: Trains – Long-distance traffic". Retrieved 24 May 2010.

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