The RE5 route from Hamburg to Cuxhaven gives the only opportunity to travel behind class 246 diesel locomotives.
Formerly synonymous with the class 218 diesel-hydraulics, and the 220s before them, this 70-mile route links Germany’s second-largest city with the noted North Sea port.
246 004, Hamburg Harburg, 10/05/17 (JW)
Since the December 2007 timetable change, an hourly service has operated on the route in each direction seven days a week, complemented by a small number of “additional” out-of-pattern rush hour commuter trains on weekdays.
These services are hauled by a dedicated fleet of eight class 246s (246 002 to 246 009) leased from the regional transport authority Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen mbH (LNVG), and formed of double-deck carriages.
Until the December 2018 timetable change, this operation was worked by the private company Metronom, but it has now reverted to DB operation; retaining the same motive power and coaching stock.
The class 246 is a diesel variety of the Bombardier “TRAXX” family, first unveiled to the public at the InnoTrans expo in Berlin in 2006. They feature a 16-cylinder MTU 4000-series power unit of 3,000hp.
Metronom had been running services on a previously 100% electrified network in the Niedersachsen area since the December 2005 timetable change, and a fleet of brand new class 146 “TRAXX” electrics had been procured for this purpose. When the requirement for diesel traction emerged later, it was an obvious decision to source a fleet based on the same platform – there is in fact a fair amount of component synergy between the 146s and 246s, although they are maintained in separate locations – the 146s in Uelzen and the 246s in Bremervörde.
The multi-engine development of this design is class 245, which has had a far more problematic entry to service.
The class 246 fleet actually consists of 11 locos, and all of them were initially procured by LNVG. All of the 246s have worked on RE5, but three of them have spent the lion’s share of their career to date as freight-only locomotives, and have now been sold outright to freight operators – 246 001 and 246 010 to “hvle” (the Havelländische Eisenbahn) and the erstwhile 246 011 to the Pressnitztalbahn, whose blue livery it now wears along with the painted number “246 049“.
Above is a link to a video uploaded to YouTube by user Jens Merte, showing 246 010, owned by hvle, working an RE5 train at Himmelpforten during a period of hire in early 2014.
Despite its sale, 246 010 did in fact return on hire to Metronom for a period of almost a year in 2014 – although it must be concluded that only 246 002 to 246 009 will be easily available for haulage for the foreseeable future.
RE5 returns to DB Regio operation
In late 2016, it was announced that the operating contract for the RE5 route would return to DB Regio at the December 2018 timetable change. However, this had no effect from a bashing perspective, with the new contract retaining the conditions that it must be operated to the existing timetable, leasing the same locos and stock as currently used.
There are no advertised railtour or special workings for class 246, although obviously they can be sampled every day of the week on the RE5 route from Hamburg to Cuxhaven.