The ICE 4s are diagrammed to operate trains ICE 581 and 787 (04.41 and 09.46 respectively from Hamburg Altona to Munich Main Station) and ICE 786/582 (14.16 and 17.21 from Munich to Hamburg).

Trial passenger operation with the pre-series trains was planned from the outset when the trains were ordered in 2011. Subject to successful completion of the trial programme, the ICE 4s will enter full service on the Hamburg - Würzburg - Munich route from December 2017, replacing ICE1 trains dating from the late 1980s.

DB has 130 ICE4 trains on order; 85 twelve car 250km/h sets with 830 seats, and 45 seven-car 230km/h sets, which seat 456. The 12-car trains will be built first with seven pre-series sets scheduled for testing and trial passenger operation by 2017.