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Deutsche Reichsbahn (East Germany)

92751 Views 196 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  dwb
Some of us on MRF are interested in the railways of the former East Germany, the post war Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR. Many were drawn to the Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) of East Germany because steam working continued (officially) until 1988, fully 20 years after the demise of steam on British Railways and 10 years after the end of West German steam. What we found in the East was a preserved railway system little changed from before WWII. An effort had been made to electrify certain routes coupled with a gradual move to diesel traction but steam persisted because of the prohibitive cost of oil and the parlous economic situation of the DDR. Much of the industrial base in the East had been badly damaged in the war and much of what was left was expropriated by Russia as war reparation. In fact, many electric locomotives and many kilometres of overhead line equipment was moved to the USSR.

Now, some twenty years after the end of the Deutsche Reichsbahn and its merger with DB (Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany) following the collapse of the Iron Curtain (over 24 years ago), there are many who still feel nostalgia for the old system. Modelling for us is a way of recapturing some of that lost atmosphere and this thread is intended as a place of discussion, both the prototype and the models needed to depict the DR with some degree of accuracy.

A BR 242 ELok hauling a rake of double decker coaches enters Dresden Hauptbanhof high level platforms. I took this photograph on Kodachrome 64.

I hope that this thread proves to be pleasurable and informative.

Best regards ..................... Greyvoices (alias John)
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John - in all seriousness, you should write a book - this is fascinating stuff IMHO

Info although all in German about Epoch 2 can generally be found here

A true hive of information

Thanks for taking the time to put this together John, very interesting.


many thanks John thats a great help going to need to lean German
you can use google translator.

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Blimey John!
You have a very eloquent grasp of history there and it is most fascinating.
Many thanks for posting,
John E.
Back now with the Czech border:

The most notable through service in the DDR era was the Berlin <> Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad) which was operated by the VT18.16 (later Br 175) diesel multiple unit. The service was dubbed Karlex.

The VT18.16 is now a preserved class. I was pleased to find this unit at the Schoeneweidebahnbetriebewerke open day in 2007. The buffet car was open and my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch whilst looking out of the window at an assortment of in steam Dampflok.

The Kato Br 175 in service on the Berlin Revisited layout. The photo quality not so good as taken on my phone some years ago.

The Karlex was a long standing service which for many decades, though suspended during the years of war, sped the good folk of Berlin to the spar town of Karlsbad (via Chemnitz, Aue and crossing the border at Johanngeorgenstadt). The town is famous for its hot springs, which, to my discomfort, can be unbearably warm. I put my fingers into spring water emanating from a spout in the midst of winter, contrasting with the air temperature of minus 20. The river upstream of the springs was completely covered with thick ice, downstream being ice free. I believe that through running across the border was tolerated by the Czechs because without German patronage Karlovy Vary would have lost its main source of income. Of course, for an East German with travel to the West prohibited, Karlovy Vary was a valued holiday destination.

Best regards ............ Greyvoices (alias John)
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Impressed - that Kato 18.16 is stunning - not unlike the real thing.
Thinking about the Berlin <> Karlovy Vary service there is evidence that in the 1980's the timetable was relaxed following the replacement of the Br 175 units with loco hauled stock. The schedule had been around 6 hours but by 1989 the 07:56 departure from Berlin Lichtenberg arrived in Karlovy Vary at 16:00 (8:04 hours). The northbound service departing Karlovy Vary at 07:40 took even longer, arriving in Berlin Lichtenberg at 16:06 (8:26 hours). The reasons for this must be because the demand for travel between the two locations had dwindled so the train became an ordinary DR service with an extension through to the spa town.

Today, the timings have been accelerated but no longer as a through service. It's now back to around 6 hours via:

Change of train at Leipzig, Zwickau and Johanngeorgenstadt. (Map from DB AG train enquiry website)

or with one change:

Still around 6 hours with one change at Usti nad Labem. (Map from DB AG train enquiry website)

Just to remind ourselves what we are missing these days here is a photo taken at Johanngeorgenstadt in 1985:

I believe that there were Czech locos crossing the border in the DR era but have not as yet located any evidence for this. A quick search has however unearthed this for 2009: Trains in Johanngeorgenstadt. I believe the images to be copyright so only the link is posted here.

It is interesting to see the CD 742 diesel on the passenger service to Karlovy Vary. Suitable models can be found here at Techimage or from the Piko range:

Piko new item for 2014. CSD T669 Epoch III/IV.

or from the varied range of this loco type being introduced by Roco this year:

Roco new item for 2014. CD 770 Epoch V.

This family of locomotives, the ChME3, built by CKD (incorporating Tatra the tram maker), with variants eventually totally 8,200 locomotives. That's a lot of locomotives ......... exported from Czechoslovakia to other Warsaw pact countries including many to Russia and even a few to Cuba.

Best regards ................ Greyvoices (alias John)
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Looking back at post #19 it is very apparent that the "world" visibly shrunk for East Germany following WW11. The creation of a border to the regions of western germany must have shaken the population and the loss of the eastern lands, equally significant. For those working on the railway the initial complications must have been daunting. Berlin had been the hub of a vast undertaking, a well funded and resourceful enterprise that many other railway nations sought to emulate. The war had changed all of that. Ravaged by attacking forces on both sides; drained of materials and fuel; tracks and bridges torn up or destroyed, many by the despairing hand of their own retreating armies. With the coming of the occupying forces and the imposition of the new borders railway staff first had to work out what was required of their truncated network.

As the months and years of the 1940's drew to a close the task of realigning the routes that fed into Berlin so that the West zone could be avoided was paramount. The Ausenring (outer ring) had to be forged from the collection of avoiding, predominantly freight routes so that all East German passenger trains could approach the city from the East.

The Berlin Ausenring in the 1980's.

This, coupled with the poor state of the infrastructure added considerably to journey times so the new Deutsche Reichsbahn emerged as a piecemeal affair. Further problems were the state of the locomotive and rolling stock. Much had been taken in the way of war reparation with even many miles of overhead line equipment dismantled and taken back to Russia. Electric locomotives were also taken to Russia but many of these were returned to the DDR in the early seventies. Initially there was a drive to renew the electrified routes but as the industrial policy of the Warsaw Pact countries was dominated by central planning from Moscow the decision was made to concentrate on the introduction of diesel locomotives and a gradual decline in the steam fleet.

Thirty years on this policy started to unravel as the East German economy was in a state of crisis. The cost of Russian oil soared as subsidies were withdrawn by the USSR which was also suffering its own difficulties. The cost of imported oil was now prohibitive and drastic measures were needed. Electrification was the answer, power being generated from the vast reserves of brown coal in fields such as those near Bitterfeld. So, entering the 80's the DR network was this:

Must get a better map! However, it can be seen that only the main routes to the south of Berlin had been electrified by the 1980's.

Electrification was well under way but many of the major routes had waited for modernisation for decades. As each route was energised the cascade of diesels allowed for an accelerated withdrawal of steam. Improvements in travel time and speed should have been expected but the overall effect of this radical change was that journey times increased and average speeds plummeted notwithstanding the use of modern electrics such as here:

A new Br 243 locomotive on what looks to be a "Sachsenring" service at Regis-Breitingen, a station on the route between Zwickau and Leipzig. The "Sachsenring Express" ran daily between Zwickau and Berlin ( train numbers 160 & 167). The orange and cream liveried "Y" and Halberstadt coaches were a feature of the latter DR Stadt Express Network (Roco and Tillig can supply this need).

The overall effect was that Intercity journey times increased by 10% (18 minutes) between 1976 and 1989. Average speeds also deteriorated over the same timescale from 82 kmph to 70 kmph (14% slower). Much of this deceleration was to limit fuel consumption, a purely cost cutting exercise but the ongoing modernisation also incurred many delays to traffic. It is quite astonishing to find that even when whole routes were completed and new locomotives introduced, there was a continued deterioration in the service. This was a system in decline. How much of this was political is hard to answer.

This post is obviously a condensed summary of a very complex subject as there were many factors at work here. I think that the Deutsche Reichsbahn was gradually moving towards a general acceleration of the timetable. With the completion of the electrification into the East Berlin Hauptbahnhof (now known as Ostbahnhof) the way was clear to increase speeds into the city. Travelling from Berlin today is radically changed and memories of starting your journey to Dresden or Leipzig by first catching the S/Bahn to Berlin Lichtenberg where you would board your Intercity train seem very distant.

Sources for this information are available because the Deutsche Reichsbahn was well documented. Contemporary magazines such as the "Eisenbahn-Jahrbüch" are still available, here a source on Ebay. These magazines have also been collated by Transpress into a 4 volume set entitled "Schienenverkehr in der DDR"; well worth looking out for but it will entail some studious hours with a german dictionary to hand for many of us.

Best regards ................. Greyvoices (alias John)
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Further to the last post concerning the Stadt Express network this website is very interesting:

Stadt Express website link

The main website for which the above is but a part is the: Binnenreiseverkehr der DR website. This is well worth exploring.

The main website is: DR Web Kursbuch which has even more of interest.

Best regards .............. Greyvoices (alias John)
What is becoming evident in this thread is that the Deutsche Reichsbahn, its services and performance, was very dependent on the political and economic realities of the DDR. Much of this environment was outside the control of the East German government as it was forced to adhere to the reality of post war Soviet dominance.

We have seen that through the late forties right up to the early sixties the Soviets demanded reparation for the damage inflicted upon Russia in WW2. It is estimated that the amount of machinery, infrastructure and raw materials that were plundered by the Soviets from the Eastern Bloc satellite countries was equal to the Marshall Aid that the US provided to pump prime the regeneration of Western Europe. (Forgive me for mentioning here that the only country to repay the US any or all of the Marshall Aid plus war loans was the UK, making the last payment in December 2006).

After the initial phase of reparation the DR became subject to the 5 year plan structure of Soviet industrial and agricultural planning. The umbrella organisation for this was deemed to be the COMECON (which we in the West always think of as the Communist Economy). COMECON played an increasing role in the direction of manufacturing within the member countries as, following the death of Stalin in 1953, the emphasis became the avoidance of parallel manufacturing so each country was designated as the sole supplier of certain types of goods or services.

Production of mainline steam locomotives ended in post war East Germany, activity concentration on refurbishment of the war ravaged fleet, then on improvements and upgrades such as to these two Kriegs locomotives, designated as RekkoLoks (reconstructed) with the addition of super heating, the angular lumps just ahead of the chimneys. I took this photo at the Scoeneweidebahnbetriebswerke open day in 2008.

The effect on the DR and locomotive manufacture was profound as the initial post war reparations had halted the production of electric locomotives, work on steam locomotives was limited to repair and refurbishment whilst diesel locomotive production, although in its infancy, was artificially low key in the DDR because under the COMECON plan heavy diesel locomotive production was allocated initially to Russia but later also to Romania. This production model for railway equipment was adopted throughout the Eastern Bloc in 1956. That said, with the ebb and flow of political tension within the Bloc and at times of productive under capacity in the preferred countries, the rule on what could be built where was sometimes relaxed.

Two locomotive classes that were built in the DDR, 118 and 242, the ELok in LEW and the DLok in the Karl Marx Werke in Babelsberg. I took this photo - Dresden Hbf, 1990.

Another aspect of Soviet planning was the emergence of railway standardisation throughout the allied countries. Whereas, in the West railways adopted the UIC standards, behind the Iron Curtain there emerged the OSShD standards which in many respects were a parallel of the UIC, an important element if there was still to be maintained a degree of through running between the two systems. This will become all too apparent when we turn our attention to coaching stock.

Another milestone was the pooling of freight vehicles in 1964, a rather modest 93,000 wagons complying with the OSShD standards for the movement of goods between the member states. It was also at about this time that the DR started to restore electric traction and introduce new electric locomotives, once again produced in the Hennigsdorf factory, Lokomotivbau-Elektrotechnische Werke (LEW), situated just to the northwest of West Berlin.

Another product of LEW in Hennigsdorf, a Class 202 (just renumbered from Class 110), Halberstadt 1992. Another of my photos. Leaking steam heating pipes providing the atmosphere.

Back home where it was made at LEW, an ELok now deemed surplus to requirements in the Bitterfeld coal mining complex. A photo taken by myself in 1997.

This post is but a glimpse into a very complex and involved period of history but I hope that it stimulates deeper research into the subject.

Best regards ................. Greyvoices (alias John)
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Hi John,

Thank you for your excellent explanation of things DR, modelling the other side of the border, I have never really taken any notice of the East.

I wish to learn more!!

Thanks for the new information John. Very informative.


Thanks for the comments chaps. MRF is about sharing knowledge, I gain much from other members so I try to put a little bit back.

Following on from post #32 it would seem logical to illustrate locomotives delivered to the DR by other COMECON countries.

We start with Russian products:

A product of the October Revolution Works, Voroshilovgrad, USSR; the M62 or DR Class 120 (later 220) but as I have not yet scanned in all my old slides I am using a photo I took in 1996 of the Polish version of the M62 designated the ST44, here at Olsztyn in North East Poland, Masuria. Olsztyn was formerly the German town of Goldtstein and was located on the Berlin <> Konigsberg route (Konigsberg was in East Prussia but is now in Russia and named Kaliningrad). The ST44 is identical to the DR 120 except for the oversized headlights that are a particular feature of Polish locos plus the fact that the DR 120's were painted red.

A Class 232 diesel locomotive (formerly Class 132), also built at the October Revolution Works. I took this photo in 1992 at Dresden Neustadt, the loco only just renumbered. There were over 700 of these locos delivered to the DR between 1973 and 1982.

The DR Class 119 was built in Romania:

The Class 119 was renumbered in 1992 to 219 and is here recorded by my camera in 2002 at Erfut, ready to depart with a train for Gera. The sun was in the West so my photo was not perfectly lit. These locos were affectionately named "U-Boats" by East German railwaymen. They were not as well made as the German built Class 118's (see post #32) so during the 1990's they were heavily refurbished, some being re-engined and re-classified as 229.

I caught this train as far as Weimar where I was staying and this photo is of the train leaving Weimar Hbf en route to Jena then Gera, a particularly hilly route which really made these locos roar.

I have not intended to provide an in depth study of the DR locomotive classes, perhaps something to think about for later but in the meantime I hope that I have illustrated the influences that shaped the DR fleet strategy. It was the locos highlighted in these last two posts, coupled with the 80's build electric locos that finally brought to an end the steam era in the DDR. Officially steam finished in 1988 (1978 in West Germany) but right up to 1990 it was a common sight to see an engine in steam simmering on a depot, often a Class 50.

I think that the next post should focus on dates/years and Epochs and the effect on the numbering system. Perhaps liveries can follow that. Who knows, we might even get back to talking about models.

Best regards ................ Greyvoices (alias John)
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Very interesting to read what was going on in other countries after the war - thanks. The pic of the 118 and 242 is excellent and in itself taken in 1990 is a piece of history now.
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Although I have not added to this topic for some time the subject is not forgotten. I have been carefully checking the veracity of the next tranche of information as I endeavour to ensure that all facts are accurate. I have been compiling a spreadsheet of the evolution of DR locomotive classification and numbering and linking this with model railway epochs. The spreadsheet was at an advanced stage but as I included details of class totals by year, be they in service, inoperable or stored I detected certain discrepancies between the various published sources. I am nearing the end of the process of reconciliation but still have a few weeks work before completion. I will then have the challenge of how to convey the information, i.e. what format should I use.

If all else fails the best course of action is to start at the beginning so I am adopting the basic classification framework used by the DR (inherited from the DRG):

  1. Express Locomotives - 01 > 04
  2. Passenger Locomotives 35 > 39
  3. Goods Locomotives 41 > 58
  4. Tank Locomotives 62 > 95

Followed of course by the diesel and electric classifications. I will commence with brief details of the express classes 1950 through to 1991 then move on to the general passenger locomotives ....... and so on. The 01 to 04 element is nearly complete.

The process has been further complicated by some locomotives being taken to the USSR and then later returned plus a considerable number of steam locomotives that were withdrawn from general DR use but were set aside for the exclusive use of the occupying Russian forces. For any listing to be accurate these facts must be included. I intend to make a specific post regarding the locomotives allocated for Russian Military use, the so called Kolonie.

As the posts build up to a complete overview of DR classification and numbering 1950 to 1991 I intend to make the spreadsheet available to anyone on request. I don't imagine that I will be inundated with the demand.

My one deep regret is that I can find no indication that the soon to be released Roco USA S160 was ever used on DR metals. Such a shame.

Best regards ............... Greyvoices (alias John)
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Thanks for the update John. I certainly appreciate the info.


Hi John,
I'm afraid that I have been absent (wol!) for quite awhile now and just catching up.
Just to reiterate Neil's post above, I too find this information fascinating, thank you very much indeed for all your research.
John E.
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