© Railway Wonders of the World 2012-
Some of the Steam Locomotives of Germany
GERMAN steam locomotives have always been among the most impressive in Europe. Yet German steam is basically the result of two quite recent decisions by the state railway authorities; during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the steam locomotives of Germany were as eccentric and mixed a bag as ever ran on a country’s railways.
Historically speaking, the first German steam locomotive was an oddity built by the Königlichen Eisengiesserei (Royal Ironworks) at Berlin in Prussia, in the year 1815, but it was only experimental and never came to anything. Certainly when the first true railway opened, in 1835, between Nuremburg and Fϋrth, in Bavaria, its locomotive, as so often with such lines, was a Stephenson design imported from England complete with top-
The early locomotives were much like others of their era, light four-
Oldenburg, Baden and Wϋrttemberg were always comparatively small and undistinguished systems but the others developed some distinctive locomotive types and styles. That too was the era of the big famous locomotive firms, such as the Saxon Locomotive Company of Chemnitz, Henschel of Kassel, Krauss-
Thus, during the first decade or so of the twentieth century, an increasing number of standard designs came into being; foremost were probably Prussia and her neighbour Saxony, with their carefully chosen classes to deal with all eventualities. The Saxon state railways administration was probably motivated almost entirely by a desire for internal efficiency; its locomotives were designed specifically for Saxon conditions. Prussia, on the other hand, had designs on other countries and its railways were from the start laid out to allow rapid and unimpeded movement of
troops to any point of the compass. Prussian locomotives, even at an early stage, were in keeping with that policy, being deliberately designed so as to be able to run within other people’s loading gauges.
The final flowering of that highly teutonic thoroughness can be seen in the magnificent — for their period — standard passenger and goods classes that appeared from 1910 on. They included the immortal P8 4-
These Prussian machines, produced in large numbers for the German 1914-
prestige locomotives on the other German state systems — high-
The fact is that apart from the prestige machines, some specialised rack locomotives for the 13 main-
Modern German steam power dates, in fact, from the formation of the Reichsbahn in 1921. The new national company found itself in dire straits, much of the best Landerbahnen equipment having been taken by others as war reparations and it therefore initiated an urgent programme of standard locomotive construction to make up the losses. It made sense to concentrate on a few efficient classes to help cut complexity and speed production and, inevitably, it was the newest Prussian standard designs that proved most suitable. Only a really powerful Pacific design was missing from the Prussian list and so the magnificent Bavarian locomotives of Class
S3/6 were chosen to fill the gap. Otherwise the T3 and T9 branch engines, the P8 4-
The numbering business was studied with true Prussian thoroughness; not for them the slightly haphazard British plan of starting at number one and working up to 99,999 (with a duplicate list to take care
of the oddities). The DR plan was logical simplicity itself once one got to know it. First, a two-
97 Rack locomotives
98 Light railway locomotives
99 Narrow -
Both standard machines and locomotives
of similar size, shape and power from various Landerbahnen could well be grouped under the same type number (eg Type 89 (0-
others, the 'standard' Prussian T8, the Saxon VT — itself in two varieties — the Wurttemberg T3 and Bavaria's D11, R3/3 classes). The system differentiated between them by allocating to each a batch of three-
big, the index showed inclusive batches; thus 8970 75 covered various batches of the ubiquitous Prussian T3 class.
Having more or less sorted out the bewildering variety of locomotive types, the original Deutsche Reichsbahn became virtually bankrupt in the 1923 depression, although not before it had initiated a much more detailed long-
The first fruits of the new Reichsbahn's policy came in 1925 with the superb Pacifies of Classes 01 (simple) and 02 (compound). They were built for purposes of direct comparison, the simple locomotive winning and subsequently being produced in large numbers; the ten 02s were later converted to simple expansion, as were the ten 04 light compound Pacifies built in 1930 as a comparison with the 03 class light (simple expansion) Pacific.
The standard locomotive policy took effect from 1925 onwards in two major 'plans'. The first one included, besides the basic Pacific designs, a heavy 2-
was built in great numbers. Apart from BR 64 (520 built) and BR 80 (39), other classes were built only in small numbers— 20 or fewer—and were mainly for specialised purposes. They comprised BR 62, a 4-
This collection of classes left some very obvious gaps in the stud, which during the 1930s were gradually filled. The most significant designs were the 2-
Also of some importance but with their development cut short by the second world war, were the improved streamlined Pacifies of BR 0110 and O310 that hauled the prestige trains in the late 1930s. Otherwise classes were again in small numbers only for specialised jobs: they comprised the 06 4-
There were also several experimental classes especially for express work including a most unusual prototype 2-
which pairs of high-
types, notably the heavy and light 2-
which themselves were further simplified
and from 1942-
Once again Germany lost the war and, once again the railways found themselves in urgent need of motive power to replace war -
Fortunately the existing designs were both simple and highly competent machines so that production could quickly be resumed. The life of many Prussian veterans was prolonged, some of the more exotic streamliners, in particular the 0110 and O310, were rebuilt, and more 2-
further steam locomotive development and when number 23 105 came off the production line, steam locomotive building for the West German railways came to an end. The new German Federal Railway (Deutsche Bundesbahn) decided on a very rational programme of electrification and dieselisation to meet its future motive power requirements and started slowly running down the stock of existing steam power.
In East Germany, the country having been split up after the war, the new state railways retained the name Reichsbahn. The post-
The DB itself has adopted the very sensible policy of buying only as many diesels as it will require when electrification is complete. Meanwhile its declining but very efficient stud of standardised steam locomotives is kept in good order since its members still have a good many years'work left in them; indeed a recent increase in traffic has meant that some stored locomotives have had to be returned to traffic and steam is unlikely to disappear before 1974 at the earliest.
The survivors are mainly the efficient Einheitsloks of classes 01, 44 and 50, many of which have been converted to oil firing, but at the time of writing small numbers of many other classes survive. Almost incredibly even Prussian veterans of the ubiquitous P8 (BR 38) and G8 (BR 55) classes are still—just—soldiering on although they will not survive 1972. The
The main classes are grouped in specific areas and fortunately one of the best ones is very near to Britain. On many of the trains out of Rheine near the Dutch border and on the Rheine-
As a final fling, the DB has once more changed—or at least modified—its steam locomotive numbering system, to allow for computerisation of its stock-
addition, variants within a class—for example coal and oil fired—now have separate class numbers. Thus 44 class engines are 044 if coal burners and 043 if oil burners. The locomotives remain just as efficient and impressive as they ever were.
You can read more on “Continental Locomotives”, “Germany and Holland” and
“Some German Achievements” on this website.