A new start
The first trains after the war
The first network of long-distance trains
Moving forward, more trains, more comfort, more regularity
Pre war rolling stock again in service
The start of an international long-distance network
The blue network of fast express trains
The modern era, the rise of electric locomotives
The modern diesel locomotive is coming
A new class of coaches
The third class is abandoned
The last new steam engine
A new prestious network, the Trans Europ Express
The Rheingold, from 1962 again exclusive
A new star on rails, the electric locomotive E 03
A new prestious network, the Trans Europ Express
In 1957 the former director of the Dutch national railways, ir F.Q. den Hollander proposed a new plan for an international network of fast and luxurious (diesel) trainsets in western Europe.
The railway companies of Western Germany (DB), France (SNCF), Switserland (SBB-CFF-FFS), Italy (FS) and the Netherlands (NS) agreed on this plan. The first TEE trains were going into service with the summer timetable on 2 June 1957. Initially the network was managed by the railway companies of Western Germany (DB), France (SNCF), Switserland (SBB-CFF-FFS), Italy (FS) and the Netherlands (NS). Besides these countries there were also countries which gave the TEE trains only passage through their countries, among them were Belgium (NMBS-SNCB) and Luxemburg (CFL). In 1964 Belgium and Luxemburg also joined the TEE network.
The principles of the TEE were based on a couple of basic ideas, which mainly in the beginning were fulfilled, later the railway companies abandoned some of these basic principles. The TEE was based on the following principles:
- Diesel traction
Due to many different currents used by each country for the catenary, the idea was to use only diesel traction, because this could decrease the delay at the borders caused by changing locomotives. Also many railway lines which crossed the borders in that time were not electrified. In 1961 this principle was abandoned when the Swiss railways built a trainset for the TEE network which was capable of running on four different currents systems.
The next principle was the use of trainsets instead of trains consisted of a locomotive with coaches. But this caused a lot of delay in endstations because another locomotive had to couple to the other end of the train. When using a trainset you don't have these problems. But because trainset were/are not so flexible in number of seats, you couldn't easily couple extra coaches when you need extra seats, so this leaded soon to dropping this principle by using trains with a locomotives and coaches. Mainly on the relation Paris-Brussel-Amsterdam this dilemma showed up because the part Paris-Brussel was very busy and the part Brussel-Amsterdam was very quiet. Because of that in 1963 they decided to use pulled trains on this relation, and abandoned also this principle.
Originally it was the intention that the TEE network only offered international relations. This principle was abandoned in 1965 with the introduction of the French Le Mistral and the German Blauer Enzian as TEE trains. Both trains were operating on domestic relations and were upgraded to TEE trains. The reason for this was clear, in these countries there were many relations which were much longer than some international TEE relations.
- Luxurious rolling stock
This principle is never abandoned. The railway companies used luxurious, first class trains with dining facilities on all TEE relations. In principle all rolling stock was special made for the TEE trains.
- Customs without delays
In the time of the introduction of the TEE mostly all trains travelers must get out of the train for the control of their passports at the border. This resulted in long delays at the borders. In TEE trains the customs officers came in the train to check the passports, this resulted in short delays at the borders.
- Daily connections
The TEE network offered daily train connections. This was a simple and effective concept for the public, each day a TEE train on each relation. This principle was abandoned in 1968 with the introduction of TEE Le Lyonnais. Later there came more and more TEE trains which not operated on each day of the year and were only in service in the summers or during other peak periods.
During the years, the TEE network grew bigger and bigger and three more countries were added, among them were: Spain (RENFE), Denmark (DSB) and Austria (OBB) until the network reached it's peak in 1974.
In the fifties the DB built special diesel trainsets of class VT 11.5 especially for the TEE network. Because there was not much time for construction there were not innovative techniques used in the trainsets.
A trainset consisted of the following parts: a motorunit, a compartment coach, a saloncoach, a dining coach with bar and without kitchen, a dining coach with kitchen and dining and another motorunit. The trainsets could be extended with more coaches until a ten part trainset. The trainsets were also suitable for the ferryboats to Denmark and Sweden.
The first trainsets were delivered on 15 May 1957 in the AW Nürnberg. After the first testruns and the presentation for the press, the first services started in June 1957. The trainsets were in service on all TEE relations from Germany, these were the TEE 77/78 Helvetia (Hamburg-Zürich), TEE 31/32 Rhein-Main (Frankfurt/M-Amsterdam), TEE 74/75 Saphir (Dortmund-Brussel-Ostend) and TEE 168/185 Paris-Ruhr (Dortmund-Paris).
The first TEE trains from Germany started on 2 June 1957 with the summer timetable. The first weeks the trainsets of class VT 08.5 were in service in the TEE trains because the trainsets VT 11.5 were not all delivered. After a couple of weeks all TEE trains were done with trainsets of class VT 11.5.