Written by 

Hubert Brunner

Global Account Manager

When Deutsche Bahn (DB) first laid out plans to revolutionise and expand its long distance fleet, nobody was aware of the unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic would bring to the project. The ambitious project not only involved maximising the available passenger capacity, but also to enable the trains to achieve a top speed of 300 km/h. 

The fleet would be initially in use between Frankfurt and Cologne, with greater links across Germany, including Dortmund and Munich, to be established at a later date. The first priority for DB was to secure new high-speed trainsets which could be made available at short notice. Siemens’ Velaro solution was chosen, but they needed to find a partner who could help with a re-design of the existing Velaro D inter-vehicle jumper system - and its production process - to best suit the project requirements. This partner would also be responsible for handling logistics in order to keep everything on time. This would prove challenging with the unprecedented pressures of the pandemic.


Navigating the complexities of on-time deliveries has historically been a challenge, especially when dealing with intricacies of sourcing and coordinating third-party components from multiple suppliers. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic added an extra layer of difficulty, especially when parts and components were being sourced internationally. 

Given the scale of the project - which required a high number of components - establishing a regular contact between the HUBER+SUHNER and Siemens project management teams would be essential to successfully navigate the challenging period. Regular communication would hold the key for consistent updates and to promptly address any delivery and quality concerns. This would prove vital, as project requirements meant Siemens often needed alternative options to be delivered within a tight timeframe.

Each Velaro trainset consists of 7 such jumper systems


For the technical aspects of the project, HUBER+SUHNER supplied tailored inter-vehicle jumper systems critical for the success of Siemens’ Velaro system. Responsible for electric connections vital for the train's operation, the inter-vehicle jumpers form the backbone of the entire fleet of trains. In the Siemens supply chain this component has a very high attention, which was crucial for the coupling and testing of the train prior to the hand-over to DB. Normally visible between individual train carriages, the HUBER+SUHNER jumper systems were designed to be hidden from view from commuters, something which is unique to the Velaro system. This means the carriages themselves look more appealing, without compromising on performance.

Over the course of the project, HUBER+SUHNER and Siemens faced a number of challenges with 3rd party products, exasperated by the pandemic. The demonstrable competence displayed by our team also helped to secure the supply chain, and the team provided essential support on a number of tasks involving cabling to metal work. 

Proactive measures were implemented to mitigate potential disruptions. HUBER+SUHNER ensured both DB and Siemens were informed well in advance about potential delays from sub-suppliers, enabling them to focus on other parts of the project where the necessary parts were available. Based on the collegial co-operation on the project management and sourcing levels, challenges were addressed promptly, preventing any significant setbacks relating to delays or production errors at any point.


Thanks to the dedication to on-time deliveries and technical assistance provided by HUBER+SUHNER, DB were able to put the revamped ICE 3neo fleet into operation just two and a half years after the initial order. This would be considered a fantastic project completion time even before factoring the issues brought about by the pandemic, serving to highlight the monumental efforts of our experts. Parts were consistently delivered promptly, with the logistics involved to source and deploy these being effectively managed by the HUBER+SUHNER project team in Poland, Switzerland and Germany.  

The support from HUBER+SUHNER helped set a new benchmark in the German high-speed rail sector. As a result, in total 90 ICE 3neo trains are now expected to be in service by 2029. The success of the Velaro project and the capabilities of the HUBER+SUHNER team are now poised to play an essential role in securing and completing future high-speed rail projects, including the development of 15 train sets in Egypt over the course of next year.

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