Many European railroads purchased powered rail cars for Trans-Europe-Express-service (TEE) that fulfilled the highest demands for comfort and that offered 1st class seating only. The DB decided on a powered rail car train based on the "Kruckenberg" VT 137 155 and the successful V 200. The basic configuration consisted of two powered end cars as well as five intermediate cars. This train could be expanded to a ten-unit consist by adding additional intermediate cars. The drive gear came from the V 200: Each powered end car was equipped with a 1,100 horsepower motor that transmitted propulsion to the wheel sets in the power truck by means of a hydraulic transmission and universal joint shafts. A 296 horsepower auxiliary diesel motor with a generator connected directly to it ensured electrical power exclusively for the galley and the air conditioning. The following was delivered in 1957/58: 19 powered end cars (VT 11 5001-5019), 23 compartment cars (VM 11 5101-5123), eight open seating cars (VM 11 5201-5208), eight bar cars (VM 11 5301-5308), and nine dining cars (VM 11 5401-5409).
The "Helvetia" linked the North of Germany to Switzerland since the start of the TEE network on June 2, 1957 and was among the "founding members" and thereby the first of the TEE trains. Initially, the new class VT 11.5 TEE diesel powered rail car trains were available for this routing (Hamburg – Frankfurt – Mannheim – Basle – Zürich). Yet as early as April 12, 1965 the Helvetia advanced to the first locomotive-hauled TEE in Germany, because with increasing electrification more and more TEE trains were converted to locomotive-hauled trains. The last of the TEE trains to be converted was the "Mediolanum" on August 20, 1972. From 1971 on, the TEE sets, designated as the class 601/901 from 1968 on, found new activity in the lntercity network. With the introduction of 2nd class in IC service, the class 601 powered rail car trains were once again without work for the summer schedule of 1979. A large part of these units was in use again in tourist service starting in the summer of 1980. These units with their elegant form ran as the "Alpen-See-Express" / "Alps-Sea-Express" from Hamburg and Dortmund to different South German and Austrian vacation regions, sometimes even as double units on certain parts of routes. The last use of the former TEE powered rail car trains as the "Alpen-See-Express" took place on April 9, 1988. Shortly after that, all of the trains were retired.