A jolt, a sigh, and the train pulls out of the station in Hanover, Germany, at 6:44 p.m. Right on time, even though this isn't the usual train.
It should be an InterCity Express, the fastest model on German rails - the kind that derailed last Wednesday when a wheel broke. Investigators still can't fully explain the deadly accident, and by Saturday ICE models nationwide had been recalled twice for security checks.The crash killed more than 100 people and smashed rail cars like tin cans. Yet it apparently has not shaken confidence - or pride - in Germany's premier train network.
As they settle in with novels, newspapers and laptops, passengers on the Friday evening journey to Frankfurt still believe the high-speed trains are safe. And they can't wait to get back on them.
In the cafe car, a man gazes out the window at the landscape whizzing by in a green blur. Bernd Pecnek commutes three times a week on the ICE, and he doubts it has a technological flaw.
"I've traveled thousands of miles on these trains, and I've never seen a problem. The crash was a freak accident," says Pecnek, a business consultant who like many people on board says he far prefers the high-speed train to the autobahn.
"It's faster. It takes three times as long to go by car. And the trains are much safer."
Over loudspeakers in train stations across the country, the German rail company apologizes for delays and explains the recall of the first-generation ICE models. Station video screens display a message: "We mourn the dead of Eschede and we extend our sympathy to the injured and the families of the victims."