Hamburg station (Germany) is more than just a little weird, and if you’ve never been here before, you may want to schedule a few extra minutes just to find out where the hell you are and how to get to where you want to. It makes up for that with good-looking architecture and weird trains, though.
One example of the latter would be the class 605, DB first and only high-speed diesel trains. For marketing purposes, they are known as ICE TD. They were ordered together with the well-known class 411 and 415 ICE T EMUs, but never really proved themselves. Despite looking exactly the same (apart from no pantographs, obviously), they are quite different internally, using different tilting mechanisms, and the 605 got the one that didn’t work. Neither did many other components, and their regular service, connecting Bavaria and Saxony, was short and problematic. At only four cars per train, they were also somewhat short for an ICE.
So for some years, they were put into storage, doing precisely nothing. DB tried to sell them, but with their list of problems, buyers weren’t exactly knocking over the door. Rumor has it that a sale to Iran was blocked by export control, because the tilting technology was actually derived from the Leopard 2 main battle tank.
Starting with the soccer world cup 2006, though, DB started to get them out again, because every train was needed. After some minor refurbishing, a few of them started to run again as special trains. They finally found their true calling when AnsaldoBreda started to fail to deliver new high-speed trains to danish DSB on time (belgians and dutch here, does that sound familiar?). The most direct connection from Hamburg to Copenhagen is the Vogelfluglinie/Fugleflugtslinien (bird flight line) via Lübeck, Puttgarden and Rødby. It is not electrified yet, so the ICE TD was a perfect match. The short length of the trains is also practical, because there is a huge stretch of baltic sea in the middle of the route, with a bridge being a far-off goal at best (although the danish are arguing for it heavily). That means the trains have to be loaded onto a ferry. To my knowledge, this is the only case of high-speed trains going part of their normally scheduled line by ship anywhere in the world.
For this service, the trains received some overhaul and also DSB logos in place of the DB ones. That is something of a lie, as all other markings clearly show that this train is registered in Germany and owned by DB, but if it makes the danish feel better…
By the way: I recently heard about a proposal to use ICE TD trainsets in California, sort of as a preview of the future high speed rail line. I can think of quite a number of reasons why this is an incredibly stupid plan, but it would be fun to see if they managed to pull it off. Do any californians reading this know more about that?