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 The cost of Russian oil soared as subsidies were withdrawn by the USSR which was also suffering its own difficulties.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)