17th June 2017 – East German traction heads for Sonneberg

Saturday 17th June 2017 sees an open day at the PIKO model railway factory in Sonneberg, in Thüringen.

In connection with this, four railtours using examples of former Deutsche Reichsbahn diesel and electric traction now all but wiped away from the main line scene will be heading for this corner of the former East Germany.

At least three of them cannot, however, reach Sonneberg itself – as construction work in connection with the construction of the new high-speed line near Creidlitz has closed the line from Lichtenfels towards Sonneberg for the weekend.  Instead, these tours’ destination will be Pressig-Rothenkirchen, for onward bus transport to the factory.  This is a quick run-down of the traction and the tours involved, if you are tempted to head along too.

DR Class 118 / DB Class 228

This tour is possibly the most interesting from the haulage enthusiast’s point of view, but as of yet (18/05/17) it retains a degree of uncertainty as traction is advertised as either “228 321” (ex-DB 228 721) or 229 181 (video of 229 120 here for sound purposes!).  Although both are “rare” these days from a haulage point of view, the 228 would surely be the bigger draw.  The 229 – as part of a small number of class 219s re-engined after unification with MTU power units – is perhaps less interesting.

This tour kicks off from Magdeburg Hbf at 06:24 and runs via some solidly unit-only (these days) routes via Stassfurt and Sandersleben towards its last pick-up at Erfurt.  It looks as if this one will actually make Sonneberg, as there is no mention in any publicity of bus involvement.  Indications on the net are that it will run via Oberhof, Grimmenthal and a reversal at Rauenstein, but this has not been confirmed.  It’s being operated by the Eisenbahnmuseum Stassfurt, fares range from €69 to €84 depending on where you board, and some more details can be found here.

DR Class 119 / DB Class 219

Edit 12/06/17: Less than a week before the tour, this was re-advertised as using electric loco no.155 110 of Wedler Franz Logistik, for reasons unknown at present.  The rest of 119 158’s commitments for the rest of 2017 are still advertised to use it.

On the other hand, what is certainly booked for a 119 is Berlin macht Dampf’s tour from Berlin-Schöneweide – although, even then, their machine – 119 158 (ex-DB 219 158) was the sole member of the class to receive experimental Caterpillar 3512 series power units, and therefore its sounds aren’t classic ones.

Despite that, it still looks a decent tour, with some decent main line mileage to be had. This will deposit its passengers at Pressig-Rothenkirchen on the Frankenwaldbahn for bus transport forward.  The third class fare is €94.  More details here.

DR Class 250 / DB Class 155

The DR class 250 locos, known since 1992 as DB class 155 – nicknamed “Containers” due to their boxy shape – are powerful electrics that have not had routine passenger diagrams for about the last 15 years – although 155 110 recently hauled the “Berlin Malmo Express” and it looks as if they may be the new booked traction for this through the summer.

This tour takes an LEG example – 155 137 – via a straightforward route via Naumburg, Jena and the steeply-graded route over the Frankenwaldbahn to Pressig-Rothenkirchen, again for buses forward.  It’s operated by the Eisenbahnmuseum Leipzig and standard class tickets are €76.  More info at this link.

DR Class 254 / DB Class 194

Strictly speaking, I’m cheating with this one, as the electric loco concerned (E94 158) was never a Deutsche Reichsbahn class 254, but a Deutsche Bundesbahn class 194 the other side of the Iron Curtain.  However, built in traffic during wartime – ‘158 entered traffic on 2nd January 1945 – both classes began life as class E94 for the “1921-1945” Reichsbahn.

This tour starts in the former West – Veitshöchheim, near Würzburg – and runs main line, reversing at Bamberg, to Pressig-Rothenkirchen.  It’s operated by the Eisenbahnmuseum Würzburg and standard class fares range from €30 to €39, depending on where you board.  More info at this link.

What can I combine with it?

On both Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th June, there is a large-scale open day at the DB Museum at Koblenz.  Each day sees two circular “mini tours” using the Trans Europe Express stock.  Fares are dirt cheap and short leaps between stations are catered for in the fare structure.  Both of Saturday’s tours are in the hands of 103 113, whereas Sunday sees the first hauled by the 103 and the second by 110 239 (now as E10 1239).

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