TEE "Parsifal" and 60 Years of the TEE
Eight European railroad managements agreed to introduce a high-class express train service exclusively for 1st class for the 1957/58 annual schedule – the Trans-Europe-Express (TEE). Not all of the initially planned connections were implemented, yet finally agreement was reached on 13 pairs of trains on a route network with 5,100 kilometers / 3,188 miles. Ten of these TEE trains with euphonious names went into operation for the summer schedule starting June 2, 1957: "Rhein-Main" (Amsterdam – Frankfurt), "Saphir" (Oostende – Dortmund), "Helvetia" (Hamburg – Zürich), "Paris-Ruhr" (Paris – Dortmund), "Edelweiss" (Amsterdam – Zürich), "Étoile du Nord" (Paris – Amsterdam), "Oiseau Bleu" (Paris – Brussels), "Arbalète" (Paris – Zürich), "Île de France" (Paris – Amsterdam), and "Mont Cenis" (Lyon – Milan). The three remaining connections came for the 1957 winter schedule: One was the TEE 155/190 "Parsifal" introduced on October 3, 1957. Richard Wagner's famous opera about the noble knight "Parsifal" lent its name to the train. The "Parsifal" now formed the counterpart train to the TEE "Paris-Ruhr" in the schedule. The "Parsifal" started at Paris Nord in the early morning, returned in the evening from Dortmund, and on the way served the French stop of Maubeuge, the Belgian stations Charleroi, Namur, Liège, Verviers, and Herbesthal, and in Germany Aachen, Cologne, and Essen. Added to this train was the TEE "Mediolanum" (Munich – Milan) and "Ligure" (Marseille – Milan).
Initially, an SNCF class RGP 825 powered rail car ran as the TEE "Parsifal". With the extension of the train route up to Hamburg (952.4 km / 595.25 miles) on May 29, 1960 a seven or eight-part DB class VT 11.5 diesel powered rail car train took over. On September 29, 1968, the "Parsifal" was converted to a locomotive-hauled train after the completion of electrification on the German side. It now consisted of two type Avüm compartment cars, one type Apüm open seating car, a type WRüm dining car, and a type ARDüm bar car. The train was reinforced between Aachen and Hamburg by the addition of another type Avüm and Apüm. Initially, the class 112 (E 10.12) locomotives and from 1971 on the flagship of the German Federal Railroad – the high stepping six-axle class 103.1 – pulled this TEE on the German section Aachen/Cologne – Hamburg. Between 1969 and 1974, 145 of these powerful units entered the DB roster with the road numbers 103 101-245. Right from the start, they had been designed for speeds up to 265 km/h / 167 mph, but they were only allowed to run up to 200 km/h / 125 mph. With their elegant streamlined shape and the Siemens rubber ring spring cardan drive the class 103 locomotives were the most powerful German electrics and had an hourly rating of 7,780 kilowatts / 10,581 horsepower. Yet the latest motive power could not prevent the decrease in ridership, and at the end of the winter schedule for 1978/79, the TEE "Parsifal" service was halted. In the next schedule period, the "Parsifal" only ran between Cologne and Paris as a two-class express train D 434/435.