Deutsche Bahn was founded in 1994 in order to unify the formerly separate West German and East German railways. However, railways have operated in Germany since 1835 when the first steam railway opened between Nuremberg and Fürth. By 1845, there were over 2000 kilometers of railroad lines in Germany. The Rhenish Railway Company operated the first international railroad line in the world, starting in 1843. Deutsche Bahn’s predecessor, Deutsche Bundesbahn, inaugurated high speed Intercity Express (ICE) service in 1981.
The ICE (Intercity-Express) is Germany's high speed train. Today it has five variants, the first of which entered service in 1991. Trains reach speeds of nearly 200 MPH on some routes and operate not only within Germany but also on services to the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and France.
Thalys is the name for the international high speed rail services that operate between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne. Thalys trains are jointly owned and operated by SNCF (France), NMBS/SNCB (Belgium), Deutsche Bahn (Germany), and Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Netherlands). The trains themselves are TGV trains, modified to handle the different power voltages on each country's tracks. PBA trainsets are modified TGV Réseau trainsets and can only operate between Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. PBKA trainsets are single level TGV Duplex trainsets and can operate to all Thalys destinations. The acronyms that form the train type names originate with the cities that each trainset can serve. Thalys services began on June 2, 1996.