"Trans-Europe Express" is the title track of Kraftwerk's 1977 album of the same name, and released as a single at the time, and reissued on CD in 1990. The music was written by Ralf Hütter, and the lyrics by Hütter and Florian Schneider. The track is ostensibly about the Trans Europ Express rail system, with technology and transport both being common themes in Kraftwerk's oeuvre.
The track has since found further influence, both in hip-hop by its interpolation by Afrika Bambaata (via Arthur Baker) on the seminal "Planet Rock", which has been sampled and remixed by many different artists such as Paul Oakenfold for Swordfish's soundtrack, and by modern experimental bands such as the electroclash bands of the early 2000s.
"Trans-Europe Express" was released as a single in 1977, and charted in the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at number 67. Trans-Europe Express began charting in the United Kingdom in the 1980s. The album entered the charts on February 6, 1982, staying in the charts for seven weeks and peaking at number 49.
Allmusic described the musical elements of the suite as having a haunting theme with "deadpan chanting of the title phrase" which is "slowly layered over that rhythmic base in much the same way that the earlier "Autobahn" was constructed". The song's lyrics reference the album Station to Station and meeting with musicians Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Hütter and Schneider had previously met up with Bowie in Germany and were flattered with the attention they received from him. Ralf Hütter was interested in Bowie's work as he had been working with Iggy Pop, who was the former lead singer of the Stooges; one of Hütter's favorite groups.