GERMAN Railway was taken by surprise on July 24 when the Federal Railway Office (EBA) suddenly ordered the withdrawal of the 20-strong fleet of Class 605 ICE tilting diesel sets, citing a report suggesting there were problems with fatigue resistance of the axles. Class 605 was intended to bring ICE standards to important non-electrified routes such as Nürnberg - Dresden and the international service between München and Zürich, but this development does nothing to cheer up the trains’ unhappy history.

Launch of the fleet in commercial service was twice delayed before the trains eventually began running between Nürnberg, Bayreuth, Hof and Dresden in June 2001. Even so, software problems plagued the trains for their first few months in traffic. But worse was to come. Last December one unit derailed as a result of a broken axle, and the trains were only permitted to return to service with the tilt locked out of use pending further investigations. With tilting no longer possible, DB was forced to rewrite its ambitious timetables.

This time DB quickly pressed into service replacement loco-hauled trains, but there was no need to change the timetables as the Class 605 timings were no faster than conventional services. DB said that it was still expecting to have the trains ready for service again by the forthcoming timetable change in December, fulfilling a promise made by the train’s builders, Siemens and Bombardier.