Those of us who attended my haulage event at the Chemin de Fer Touristique du Rhin (CFTR) in north-east France on Sunday 9th September 2018 did so primarily to enjoy haulage from ex-SNCF loco A1AA1A 62029, built at the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Eddystone, Pennsylvania in 1946.
However, this was not the only American-built diesel on the site. During the visit, we were treated to a tour of their depot, in which we were shown and told about another very interesting locomotive from the USA. I would like to share its story with a wider audience here.
4036 under restoration at Volgelsheim, 09/09/18 (JW)
To give a bit of historical background, the Second World War was in full swing when the decision to undertake an invasion across the English Channel was taken by the Allies at the Trident Conference in Washington DC in May 1943. This invasion was to be the largest by sea that the world had ever seen, and would occur via the northern coast of France, in the region of Normandy. Of course, we are familiar today with the D-Day Landings of 6th June 1944.
The year between conception and realisation of the plans allowed an enormous deal of planning to occur. Railways were to form an integral part of the invasion, initially in terms of transportation of troops and equipment, and indeed since 1942 the USA had been shipping rolling stock to the UK for such an eventuality; this was stepped up a gear after the Trident Conference. However the focus was not so much on the invasion itself but what came after; in an attempt to disrupt the invasion, the Germans rendered much of the French railway network entirely unusable, both in terms of infrastructure and rolling stock. It was clear that whatever was provided to work in France after the invasion would need to be durable and able to operate in harsh conditions.
Among the American rolling stock was a fleet of 10 twin-engined diesel-electric “dropcab” switching locomotives manufactured by General Electric between March and May 1944, with works numbers 27528 to 27537, and given the running numbers 7228 to 7237 by the USATC. As built, the locos had two 6-cylinder Cummins power units; these were later replaced by 8-cylinder veeform Baudouin DP8s.
The locos passed in 1947 to the SE (Société générale des chemins de fer économiques) for use on their Gironde network as 4028 to 4037.
Preservation of 4036
4036 was retired by the Chemin de Fer de Blaise et Der (CFBD) in 2011, when the operation was ended the locomotive was redundant. It was saved by a member of the CFTR in 2014 who transported it to its new home shortly afterwards.
The future and how you can help
4036 is in the midst of a comprehensive restoration, and has already been started and moved under its own power. However, there is plenty of work left to do before it can once again haul trains and form a mobile memorial to the events of 1944.
As with any other restoration project, the speed of its progress is dictated by the volunteers and funds available. Although I am fairly sure that most reading this will be UK or USA-based and therefore unable to help with the former problem, we are able to help financially by making a donation into the project’s PayPal account at sebastien.kieffer(AT)evolutive.org.
If you do choose to do this, please select the “send to friends and family” option and ensure that “4036” is included as a note/reference so that he can identify the transfer. If you do not “do” PayPal, but would still like to help out, please get in touch with me and I can try to assist.
Additionally, as I know we have some supremely knowledgeable and well-connected people here – does anyone happen to know of any sources from where we might be able to obtain some (any) GE documentation about these machines for the team – particularly regarding, but not limited to, electrical wiring? The lack of this is another thing that is hampering the progress of the restoration. If so, please do let me know – I don’t mind following up even the most tenuous of leads myself.
With the Koreas in the news headlines at the moment, I thought I’d take the opportunity to explore a story that has interested me for some time.
Elsewhere on this site I have asserted that the remaining class 143 electrics are the only (standard gauge) locos built for the former East Germany that remain in passenger service – however this is a little disingenuous on my part! It’s almost certain that there are more.
Following the withdrawal of the final examples by the nascent Deutsche Bahn in the mid-1990s, 31 class 220 diesel-electrics – Russian-built “M62” locos formerly known as Deutsche Reichsbahn class 120, not to be confused with the former Deutsche Bundesbahn class 220 diesel-hydraulics – were exported to North Korea, where by all accounts they remain in front-line service.
An ex-DR M62, now numbered 내연 706 at Pyongyang on 05/10/13 (Photo: Clay Gilliland from Wikipedia used under Creative Commons licence)
The country known as North Korea – officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – came into existence as a result of Japan’s surrender at the end of the Second World War; when the USA occupied the southern half of the Korean peninsula and the USSR the north. Separate governments were established in 1948, with North Korea under the leadership of Kim Il-Sung – although it is still not universally recognised as a state, notably by France. Korean hostilities have continued ever since, but if the headlines are to be believed, a peace treaty can be looked forward to later in 2018.
We in the West have an image of the “hermit kingdom” as a very secretive and possibly even paranoid land, but really we know very little about it, and that certainly fuels a great deal of interest in it. The UK government currently advise against “all but essential” travel there – although accompanied guided tours do occur, including ones tailored to a railway interest.
North Korea does have a fairly extensive railway network, a lot of which was constructed during the years of Japanese occupation. It certainly suffered in the same way as Poland, East Germanyet al in terms of the Russians dismantling infrastructure to transport it back to the USSR to use it there. On top of that, extreme damage was caused to what remained during the Korean War. Although the Russians did not play an active role in that conflict, they played a very major one in North Korea’s post-war reconstruction, and this included its railways.
M62s in North Korea
As briefly touched on in this article (ostensibly about the Swedish-built NoHABs supplied to Hungary in 1963), the standard Russian medium-power diesel locomotive from the early 1960s was its “M62” type – 2,000 hp diesel-electrics with Kolomna power units. Comecon rules dictated that this rugged, spartan design was to be a “one size fits all” solution for any of the Comecon nations’ railway administrations that wanted a diesel loco in that power bracket. Consequently, they were supplied to Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Mongolia and Cuba as well as domestically. North Korea was not a Comecon member, but it did hold official “observer” status, and as part of the Russian effort to help rebuild the North Korean railways, they had a fleet built too.
Between 1967 and 1974, 64 class “K62” (the Korean version of the M62) locos were built in Voroshilovgrad for North Korea – 59 standard gauge, and 5 broad gauge to be used on the routes around Tumanggang at the Chinese border. The Koreans named these new locos “Sinsŏng”.
In the 1970s, the North Koreans reverse engineered one of the K62s, and then set about building their own “ersatz” version, the Kŭmsŏngclass.
In the late 1990s, as a result of severe economic problems (brought about in no small part by the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe) partly restricting the availability of fuel for diesels and partly also prohibiting the repair of some of the diesels in the poorest condition, some members of both the Russian and North Korean-built fleets were converted to electric locos – the Kanghaenggun class (see photo here).
With a requirement for diesel locomotives, but the economic situation prohibiting the construction of new ones, North Korea employed a creative solution. With the post-1989 age seeing many of the Eastern European M62s laid up in favour of newer traction, and this type being the existing basic diesel traction of North Korea, they looked to import some of the recently-withdrawn machines.
Between 1996 and 1998, 31 class 220s were sent from Germany to North Korea (220 008 / 043 / 048 / 086 / 087 / 114 / 119 / 159 / 180 / 211 / 219 / 234 / 289 / 290 / 292 / 296 / 305 / 317 / 318 / 319 / 322 / 332 / 334 / 335 / 342 / 345 / 362 / 367 / 371 / 372 / 375).
These locos have been renumbered into the 내연 7xx series, although I haven’t (yet) seen any details of how their new identities correspond to their old ones.
In addition, nine Slovakian class 781s made the move in 2000, which along with some ex-Russian machines are numbered in he 내연 8xx series.
Although travelling to experience these locos is not the easiest or even perhaps the wisest thing to do, it is at least nice to think that they are continuing to ply their trade long after they would otherwise have been cut up.
Have you ever been to North Korea? (Even better, have you travelled on any of the trains over there, or have any further information on these locos?). Please do leave me a comment below!
This is a photographic record of the General Motors diesel locomotives of the former JŽ (Jugoslovenske Železnice; Yugoslavian Railways)locomotives in Kosovo, all taken 17-20/09/15.
Ex-JŽ Class 645
2620 005 (ex-645 033/HŽ 2044 031)
2620 016 (ex-645 018/HŽ 2044 010)
There is no photograph of 2620 016 as this locomotive had yet to be delivered at the time of my visit – although I’m sure I have a picture of it in Croatia that I hope to find soon!
Ex-JŽ Class 661
2640 006 (ex-661 132)
2640 007 (ex-661 228)
2640 008 (ex-661 231)
Ex-JŽ Class 664.0
…and there’s actually a twelfth…
There are a handful of other GM diesels in Kosovo – four Swedish-built NoHABs acquired from NSB (the Norwegian State Railways) and also a curious, unique device now numbered 2640 010. This machine was built by TŽV Gredelj in Zagreb in 2010, as a heavy rebuild of withdrawn “Kennedy” 661 203 – although in practice only using the bogies and braking system from the 661. As the “original” 661 203 still stands largely intact, buried in a clump of trees in the scrap line at Fushë Kosovë, for the purposes of this survey the “rebuild” will feature in a future blog post about the new-build locos that Kosovo has obtained!
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I have previously posted about haulage opportunities for haulage by Spanish metre-gauge Alsthom no.1003 on the outskirts of Barcelona this summer here. However, one of the six such machines sold to Portugal in 1974 will also be working regularly for the next few months.
CP 9004 (ex-1025) will work each Saturday from 8th July to 30th September on a historical train on the Vouga metre-gauge line, situated approximately half an hour south of Porto.
The historical train will depart from Aveiro at 13:40, running approximately 90 minutes to Macinhata do Vouga. After just over an hour there, it returns to Aveiro – including a 75-minute break at Águeda – arriving back at Aveiro at 19:08.
The above is a link to a video uploaded to YouTube by user EDUARDO BALEIZÃO showing 9004 at work on the Vouga line in May.
The metre-gauge station is on the same site as the “main line” station at Aveiro, which is on the Porto to Lisboa route, the Intercity trains on which see haulage by class 5600 electric locos. The Porto area also sees sporadic haulage by English Electric class 1400 diesels (based effectively on BR class 20) on IR services to Valença, but is largely unpredictable.
A second Portuguese heritage train operates through the summer – on the Iberian gauge Douro route, between Régua and Tua, with steam loco no.0186 (built 1925 by Henschel in Kassel, Germany), and combined tickets for the two are available that apply a little bit of a discount.
Many thanks again to Charles Hinton for his help with this information.
One of Europe’s smallest countries remains a fair hotbed of electric loco haulage, and its entire network can be covered in a day. Here is a brief introduction to the country.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, landlocked between France, Belgium and Germany, has a landmass of only 999 miles, and is home to approximately 576,000 citizens – roughly the same number as Sheffield. It is the quintessential European country, with three official administrative languages (French, German and the local dialect of Letzeburgesch).
Its “European-ness” is underlined by the fact that it is home to the village of Schengen, on the banks of the river Mosel, where the territories of France, Germany and Luxembourg meet. It was at this point on this river on 14th June 1985 where the Schengen Agreement, the European open-borders travel agreement, was signed. Luxembourg survives and thrives on free movement across the borders that surround it.
3002 at Luxembourg station, 24/02/17 (JW)
History and Geography
Officially neutral, Luxembourg was overrun by Germany in both world wars; it was actually annexed into Germany from 1942 until its liberation in 1944. It ended its neutrality in 1948, when the Benelux customs union between Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands came into being, and it joined NATO the following year. Despite its modern alignment with these two countries, Luxembourg has closer ties to France and Germany both historically and culturally.
The country has two distinctive regions – the northern third, known as the “Oesling”, is a part of the Ardennes massif, a sparsely populated, hilly and forested area that was the setting for much of the fighting in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and 1945. The larger, flatter, more populous southern portion of Luxembourg is the “Gutland”, part of the scarplands of Lorraine. It is relatively urbanised and contains the country’s eponymous capital.
The face of the country has changed dramatically in recent decades. As late as the 1970s it was virtually dependent on the steel industry, and belying its tiny size, it was the world’s ninth largest producer of steel prior to the 1974 steel crisis. However, its manufacturing industry has never been great; much of the steel it produced was exported, massively aided by the arrival of the railway in 1859. The events of the mid-70s meant that its importance as a steel nation has diminished, although the world’s largest steel producer, ArcelorMittal, is based there.
4004 pauses at Berchem with an evening commuter train out of Luxembourg City. 24/02/17 (JW)
Luxembourg was forced to reinvent itself. With little else by way of natural resources to fall back on, it has turned to banking and finance, which now comprises of over a third of its GDP. It is now a formidable financial centre, being home, for example, to the European Investment Bank. However, you don’t need to look too hard in the Gutland to see evidence that steel-making remains a prominent activity.
The development of Luxembourg is non-stop, and construction of new facilities continues apace – locals apparently joke that Luxembourg’s national bird is the crane! Luxembourg now has the second highest GDP per capita in the world after only Qatar, but despite this, the country was ranked second unhappiest in the world (second only to the African corruption-riddled failed state of Chad) in the “Happy Planet Index” in 2016.
The railways of Luxembourg are operated by the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois (CFL). The majority of its 170-mile network is electrified (including all of its passenger routes), most of which see at least some loco-hauled services.
All routes radiate from Luxembourg City, the station actually being situated over a mile from the city centre itself, with the bus station on its forecourt.
Here is a link to CFL’s online passenger route map.
An intriguing factor of CFL rolling stock is that it does not possess any truly unique mainline designs – it tagging orders on to bigger ones from neighbouring countries or taking small batches of “off the shelf” designs.
There are two predominant types of electric loco that, between them, handle all of these hauled services. The older of the two is class 3000, 7,000hp Alstom “Tractis” dual-voltage machines dating from the late 1990s. 20 of these were built – 3001 to 3020 – as part of a joint order with the Belgian Railways for their 60 class 13s, which can themselves be seen operating to Luxembourg on Intercity services from Brussel and Liège, as well as freights. 3001, however, did not last long in service – having entered traffic on 31st July 1998, it was withdrawn with fire damage after only a year’s use, and was finally cut up at the end of 2011.
More recently, CFL has procured a fleet of 20 class 4000 locos (4001-4020), Bombardier TRAXX machines that are a passenger version of DB’s class 185 and SBB’s class 482 designs.
Both types are also seen on freight work, and using their dual-voltage capability, can be seen operating internationally on such duties – the 3000s into France and Belgium, and the 4000s into Germany.
The rest of CFL’s passenger fleet comprises of multiple units – of three types: class 2000 (based on SNCF’s Z11500s), class 2200 “Coradia Duplex” units (as SNCF Z24500) and class 2300 “Stadler KISS” units (as used in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and further afield).
CFL do retain some diesels – some shunters, as well as slightly bigger MaK 1000BBs and Vossloh G1206s for working freights on the small number of unwired routes and sidings.
MaK 1100BB, no.1505, shunts some coaches at Luxembourg, 24/02/17 (JW)
Times and fares
Timetables for the Luxembourg railways can be found in PDF form here. All public transport in Luxembourg is fairly heavily subsidised, and therefore it’s quite cheap to get around. The day rover (“Dagesbilljee“) valid on all trains and buses is great value for €4/day; Luxembourg using the Euro, as does all of its neighbours.
Those lucky enough to be under the age of 20 enjoy free public transport in the Grand Duchy, so long as they are carrying ID that proves that. However, with effect from 1st March 2020, travel on public transport is set to become free for everyone.
How to get there
There are a couple of options to get to Luxembourg from the UK. To do so by rail, it is easiest and quickest to catch the Eurostar to Brussels and then change onto one of the hourly Intercity services direct to Luxembourg – which are generally shared by AM96 EMUs and class 13 electric locos. Alternatively, it’s about a 4½ hour drive from Calais.
The country has one airport, which is currently served directly from Birmingham, London City, Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted, and Manchester. It served as a Luftwaffe base during World War 2, and has now carved a niche as a major European airfreight hub.
The number 16 and number 29 buses both link it to the main station, with a journey time of approximately 25 minutes. The latter stops at Cents-Hamm station, on the route to Trier, on the way. Traffic congestion is an increasing problem in Luxembourg, which has the highest car ownership level in the world (661 per 1000 inhabitants), although the new tram system, currently under construction, will eventually serve the airport.
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V200 007 (220 007) at Dagebüll Mole, 05/08/12 (JW)
My recent article regarding the current locations of the remaining ex-Deutsche Bundesbahn V200 class diesel-hydraulics attracted a great deal of interest. This brief blog post will look at where and when you can travel behind them in 2017.
The two locos in operation this year are V200 033 – which is a “classic” V200 in that it retains its Maybach MD650 power units and Voith transmissions – and also V200 007 which is now Mercedes engined.
These are the tours in the haulage calendarcurrently advertised for their use during the rest of 2017, along with links to more information about each:-
V200 033 (ex DB 220033), 06:30 Unna via Hagen, Bochum, Recklinghausen to Munster Hbf, for 78.468 (steam) forward to Emden and back, then V200 033 back to the pick-up points but in the same order as the morning, terminating at Munster, €84. Operated by Eisenbahnfreunde Witten. Link.
V200 033 (ex-DB 220033), Nürnberg area to Chemnitz, details TBC. Operated by Fränkische Museums-Eisenbahn. Link.Update 21/07/17: booking form has come out stating 216 224 to Plauen for 50 3648 forward, no mention of V200 any more. No traincrew available for the V200.
V200 007 (ex DB 220007), Lübeck to Westerland and return. Operated by Historische Eisenbahnfahrzeuge Lübeck. Link.
V200 033 (ex DB 220033), Recklinghausen Hbf to Cuxhaven and return, €79. Operated by Eisenbahnfreunde Witten. Link.
V200 033 (ex DB 220033), Nürnberg via Bamberg, Gemünden, Aschaffenberg, Frankfurt Ost to Oberwesel and return. In connection with the “Rhein in Flames” event. Operated by Eisenbahn Nostalgiefahrten Bebra. More details awaited. Some here: Link.Advised very reliably on 04/09/17 that this is cancelled, but the promoter’s page still carries booking information for it!
V200 033 (ex DB 220033) and 01.202 (steam), Rosenheim via München and Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Innsbruck, then return via Rosenheim to München. Operated by Eisenbahn Nostalgiefahrten Bebra. More details awaited. Some here: Link.
V200 033 (ex-DB 220033), 07:45 Stuttgart Hbf to Titisee and return, €85. Operated by UEF. Link.
V200 033 (ex DB 220033), Hamm to Bremen and return, €55. Operated by Museumseisenbahn Hamm. Link.
There is also to be a Christmas special with V200 007, although details of date or destination have not yet been made public.
For four years, one of Europe’s fastest locomotives wore a unique livery prominently featuring the unmistakable shape of the infamous 23hp East German “Trabant” car. What was it all about?
182 509 is a Siemens ES64U2-type loco, built in 2002 for their own spot-hire business, “Dispolok”, which was bought out by MRCE in 2006.
It was one of two such machines (182 509 and 182 560) to get unique specially-designed liveries – different on each side – in summer 2014, to mark the impending 25th anniversary of the fall of Communism in Europe. 182 560‘s was dedicated solely to the fall of the Berlin Wall, whereas 182 509‘s was on the theme of the “Pan-European Picnic”, arguably a lesser-known event – whilst still featuring symbolism of Berlin and of the actions of those at the Picnic leading to what eventually happened there.
182 509 livery detail, seen on 05/05/17 (JW)
So, what was the “Pan-European Picnic” and what was the livery all about? As I described in my article on the Flüchtlingszüge from Prague, 1989 saw burgeoning unrest through the Communist states behind the Iron Curtain, and history tells us that this resulted in the systematic collapse of the regimes in each of these countries by the end of the year. It was a watershed year but these momentous events were characterised not by shows of aggression (except in Romania) but by demonstrations of peace.
One of the main characteristics of Eastern Europe in 1989 was the gathering pace of Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of perestroika, of not interfering in the internal affairs of the Communist states. It was in this climate that the Hungarian Minister of State Imre Pozsgay and the Austrian Otto von Habsburg, an MEP and President of the International Pan-European Union, sponsored an event to be held near Sopron, a Hungarian town near to the Austrian border, on Saturday 19th August 1989.
The theory was that the border between Hungary and Austria would be opened for a few hours, allowing people from both sides of the Iron Curtain to mingle, eat together (i.e. the picnic) and generally show that despite decades of propaganda to the contrary, those on both sides of the previously impregnable border between ideologies were not so different.
182 509 livery detail, seen on 05/05/17 (JW)
What was not planned for, however, was the additional attendance of 600 enterprising East Germans who had been on their summer holidays in Hungary, had heard about the event and had decided to seize their opportunity to escape to the West. The border guards turned a blind eye to this and their “Republikflucht” had been successful.
Again, history informs us that the border between Hungary and Austria was finally opened properly on 11th September and East Germans headed there in their droves in an attempt to leave – and (again, as described here) the dominoes had begun to fall that eventually resulted in the breach of the Berlin Wall – hence the liveries on 182 509 and 182 560 each commemorate events that neatly book-end what are probably the most significant twelve weeks in European history in the second half of the 20th century.
And what of the “230km/h Trabant” in the title? These little two-stroke cars, manufactured by VEB Sachsenring in Zwickau, were ubiquitous in East Germany, and indeed through other countries behind the Iron Curtain; they are still particularly present in Hungary. But they were also the vehicles that East German families drove in to Hungary in their attempts at escaping, that were left abandoned on the streets of Prague as their owners crammed into the West German Embassy, and that smokily and noisily inched across the Berlin Wall when it was first opened on that landmark night in November 1989. As a result, Trabants became one of the most instantly-recognisable symbols of the events of 1989, and so it’s entirely appropriate that one was included in this design. The irony was that a vehicle that struggled to hit 100km/h in real life could be “seen” flashing through the German countryside at well over double that!
182 509, Stuttgart Hbf, 05/05/17 (JW)
As a Dispolok machine, the “Pan-European Picnic” loco lived a somewhat nomadic existence, but since it gained its special livery it worked predominantly for DB (both on regional passenger services for DB Regio, and on Intercity expresses for DB Fernverkehr) and, from January 2017, it was hired to the Swedish firm of Hector Rail.
Although Hector Rail is based in Sweden, 182 509 is as yet only passed for use in Germany and Austria. As well as a number of freight flows across the former, Hector Rail held the contract to provide motive power for the crowd-funded open-access train operator Locomore, which operated a Stuttgart to Berlin and return passenger service between December 2016 and May 2017 (this is now part of the Flixtrain operation). Although 182 517 worked the lion’s share of these trains, 182 509 did have a stint of a several days working this in May 2017, which is when the photos in this article were taken.
The tale of how the state railway of Communist Hungary came to procure American-engined locomotives, even as the Soviets affirmed their power over it, is an intriguing and obviously very politically-charged one.
The Hungarian State Railways (Magyar Államvasutak; MÁV) first dipped its toe in the water regarding diesel traction in the late 1930s but, in common with most other European countries in the same boat, any plans were put on indefinite hold by the advent of World War 2. Sadly, as much as an unfortunate consequence of geography as anything, Hungary was to suffer an astonishing amount of destruction during the conflict, and its railways were a key strategic target – indeed, 17% of all war damage sustained by Hungary was to its railways.
As a result, 1945 did not leave it in a position to pick up where it left off; significant reconstruction to merely return the railways to something approaching an operable state was the priority. As a result, it was well into the 1950s before MÁV could re-investigate main line diesel traction.
Hungary in the 1950s
It’s important to interject here that the 1950s did not bring harmony to Hungary. In common with the rest of Eastern Europe, it was subject to an enforced process of “Sovietisation”, with the political, ideological, social and economic norms of the Soviet Union being forced upon it. However, this was not universally popular in Hungary. Occupied by the Germans from the west, and invaded by the Russians from the east, the Hungarians had seen the worst of both sides and 600,000 of its civilians had died in the conflict between the two on its soil. Many saw the Red Army not as a liberating force but in the same light as they viewed the Nazis. The unnatural implementation of Soviet policies on Hungary led to a revolt by the Hungarian people in Autumn 1956. This challenge to their authority was ruthlessly crushed by the Soviets, resulting in the deaths of around 3,000 Hungarian civilians, and served to harshly underline the power that Moscow held over it.
A link to a British Pathe film from 1956, neatly describing the uprising (some disturbing scenes, but then again it was a disturbing event).
The forced industrialisation that “Sovietisation” brought to Hungary in the 1950s resulted in a drastically increased requirement for motive power for freight traffic, hitherto fairly quiet routes now became important freight arteries. Hungary was now a world of “five year plans”, where (often arbitrary) delivery targets were met regardless of how complete the product was. At the same time, with propaganda in mind, labour competitions were to be seen in many areas of Hungarian industry and the railways were no exception – one ambition was to have each working locomotive cover at least 500km each day in the name of keeping the wheels of industry turning (this turned out to be too ambitious by quite some margin). The upshot of all of this is that more and more trains were required to be run, and as a result, more motive power was required. The obvious solution was diesel traction, which could result in increased efficiency and reduced costs compared to the ubiquitous steam traction in use at the time. Modern traction would also provide ideal propaganda in a country that was being rapidly modernised.
MÁV naturally turned its attention domestically; to the primary Hungarian rolling stock manufacturer – Budapest-based Ganz – which after a period building tanks and Messerschmitt Bf109s during the war, was now returning to the railway market. However, it was primarily turning out electrics, such as the Co-Bo class V55s. Diesels were not its forte – however, in 1957, it was able to turn out the M601 – a 2,000hp, 141t 1-Co-Co-1 diesel-electric prototype.
The M601 was not a success by any stretch of the imagination. It survived less than a year; a catastrophic crankshaft failure on this unique locomotive during trials effectively ended not only its career, but Ganz’s hopes of contracts to provide locomotives to other Communist nations in the early years of dieselisation on the spot.
None of this helped MÁV in its increasingly-urgent search for diesels, though. Bitten once, they were twice shy in trying unproven traction, and wished for something “off the shelf”. With only diesel shunters being successfully produced in its own country, it looked to elsewhere in the Communist Bloc; with most of Eastern Europe similarly engaged in rebuilding decimated railway networks, only mother Russia was building main line diesels in any numbers. Indeed, off the back of the M601 debacle, the Soviet Union offered a version of their TE3 diesel-electric locomotive, but MÁV quickly declined this offer, deeming it entirely inappropriate for their needs – being too big and too heavy.
Having fruitlessly looked east, MÁV naturally swivelled its eyes to the west, where diesels were increasingly ousting steam, and with significant success. At the time (the late 1950s), arguably the two most successful main line diesel locomotive types in Western Europe were the General Motors-engined diesel-electrics built under licence by Nydqvist & Holm AB (“NoHAB”) in Trollhättan, Sweden and meeting the challenges that Scandinavia threw at them, and the Maybach-engined diesel-hydraulics from Krauss-Maffei that were revolutionising the Deutsche Bundesbahn in West Germany. In February 1960, arrangements were finalised for MÁV to receive demonstrators of both.
The above is a link to a 17-minute MÁV promotional video from 1978 (“Hív a vasút! Vár a MÁV!”) focussing on the fruits of the efforts that had gone into the modernisation of the Hungarian railways in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s – it makes very interesting viewing four decades on.
First to arrive, that May, was the NoHAB. This 1,950hp machine was not strictly a manufacturer’s demonstrator, as it had been intended for sale to Finland, but VR (Finnish State Railways) did not take up the order. This green-liveried locomotive undertook a two-week tour of Hungary, being comprehensively put through its paces on a variety of duties, both freight and passenger, exceeding requirements in all areas. It was also demonstrated in Romania, Bulgaria and the DDR (East Germany); there are some really interesting photos of its brief spell in the latter in July 1960 on this link. The loco returned to Scandinavia at the end of its tour, and in the August joined the books of NSB (Norwegian State Railways), numbered Di3.623, with whom it served for the next 40 years.
As a brief aside, Di3.623 is thought not to be the first NoHAB diesel to traverse Hungarian metals. Back in 1955, Di3.602 (now preserved in Norway) passed through whilst undertaking its own demonstration tour, visiting Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey, an itinerary also followed by Krauss-Maffei’s V200 005 the same year. Whilst in Turkey, the NoHAB certainly worked as far as Ankara, and is even reported to have reached the Syrian border! Not bad for a loco that went on to earn its keep working into the Arctic Circle!
The Krauss-Maffei loco arrived in Hungary for its period of testing in the July. This loco was broadly based on the V200 class of diesel-hydraulics, but took advantage of several years’ worth of technological development – it being a six-axle variant of the four-axle V200 design – although still clocking in at only 101t. It had been built as an add-on to the order of three such locos supplied to Jugoslovenske Železnice in 1957 to power Marshal Tito’s private “Blue Train”, but had been rebuilt in 1958 as a truly unique demonstrator – losing its two Maybach MD650 power units of 1,100hp each in favour of two 1,500hp MD655s. Speaking in British Rail metaphors, it was turned from a “Warship” into a “Western” (albeit with Mekydro transmissions). It had proven itself an exceedingly capable machine throughout testing in Austria and Bavaria, but had thus far resulted in no orders.
For its Hungarian testing, it received the number “M61.2001”. It again was a tremendous success in terms of the specific tests carried out in Hungary; however, MÁV were discouraged by its two-engine design, which was entirely alien to anything it had clapped eyes on before, and also its hydraulic transmission – after it’d had bad initial experiences with its M31s (although history shows that it did successfully embrace hydraulic transmission eventually). As a result, the order was placed with NoHAB, initially for 20 machines.
NoHAB built them at Trollhättan and, as if to underscore their “out of the box” quality, they delivered themselves to Hungary between May 1963 and March 1964. In ones and twos, they were worked via the Trelleborg to Sassnitz train ferry, thence the DDR and Czechoslovakia, with journeys taking up to twelve days. As well as themselves, they brought copious amounts of spares, occasionally in volumes filling complete wagons.
The locos were emblazoned with signage trumpeting “Noch eine NoHAB-GM lokomotive nach Ungarn”: “Another NoHAB-GM loco to Hungary”. This can only have been for the benefit of the East German Deutsche Reichsbahn; the message was not in Czech, or Hungarian for that matter! However, regardless of the success or otherwise of their experience with Di3.623, DR did not declare any interest.
East Germany may not have procured its own NoHABs, but in 1968 – a number of years after the opportunity had presented itself – it did (perhaps oddly) select an M61 as one of the trains featured on a postage stamp produced for the Leipzig autumn fair.
A conflict of interest?
At this point it’d be prudent to mention the elephant in the room – given the incredibly delicate political situation at the time, and with the Soviet Union unhesitatingly resorting to using force to assert its power in Hungary – how was MÁV getting away with procuring traction built outside Moscow’s sphere of influence to a design from the “wrong” side of the Iron Curtain?
Firstly, it must be established that the Iron Curtain was not a solid barrier. Goods and services crossed it all the time. This extended to rolling stock too; for example, PKP (Polish State Railways) had obtained its twenty EU06 class electrics from English Electric at their Vulcan Foundry in Newton-le-Willows in 1962; the trade even went the other way, an obvious example being Electroputere in Craiova, Romania, being sub-contracted to construct the first thirty Class 56 locos for British Rail in the mid-1970s.
That is not to say that trade across the black-and-white divide between “Capitalist” and “Communist” countries was straightforward or even encouraged. Conspiracy theories continue to circulate that the sinking of the MV Magdeburg in the Thames Estuary in October 1964, whilst conveying 42 British-built Leyland Olympic buses bound for Cuba, was orchestrated by the CIA – the USA having imposed a trade embargo on Cuba, which it “encouraged” its allies to follow, in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The supply of 10 diesel locomotives to Cuba the following year by Brush Traction was deemed so politically sensitive by Brush’s parent company Hawker-Siddeley, keen to protect its business opportunities in the USA, that all references in publicity were not to Brush but to the innocuous Clayton Equipment Co. of Hatton, Derbyshire and the machines were constructed not at Brush’s Falcon Works in Loughborough, but at Internal Combustion’s site in Derby. It was business that these companies in the “capitalist West” wanted, but depending on the circumstances, they did not necessarily want it to be common knowledge.
However, Sweden was not necessarily the “wrong” side of the Iron Curtain, depending on your viewpoint. It was ostensibly neutral in the Cold War, and as such maintained trade links with both sides with minimum concern to either side. Its very neutrality had a strategic purpose – forming, as it did, something of a tangible, physical barrier between “East” and “West”, although this barrier would surely have counted for nothing in the event of nuclear conflict!
Despite all this, the decision to source traction from the Swedes was not popular with the Soviets. The award of a contract to even a “neutral” country was seen as taking work away from the Comecon nations; that is, those who had joined the “Council for Mutual Economic Assistance”, the economic union of nations aligned with Moscow.
This would perhaps have been negated if GM/NoHAB had granted Ganz a licence to construct a production batch of locos in Budapest; as they had in the 1950s when the Belgian company AFB (Anglo-Franco-Belge) had built the class 202, 203 and 204 locos for SNCB and the class 16s for CFL in Luxembourg. This is what had happened with the English Electric EU06 design (the first 20 locos were supplied complete from England; but nearly 500 Polish licence-built examples followed); it is what was eventually done for the 18-cylinder Pielstick power units for MÁV’s class M63 diesels in the 1970s (see a stunning photo by Philip Wormald here), for example, and also for the Fiat power units for PKP’s SP45s. This would have been a win-win solution; the workers’ jobs seen to be protected, professional dignity preserved, and arguably superior locomotives provided. That licence, however, was not forthcoming.
At roughly the same time, the Russians finally reached a position to provide a diesel loco that, on paper at least, began to meet MÁV’s needs. 1964 saw an order for twenty machines; 1965 saw a follow-on order for another 32. These were the first 52 locomotives of the type that went on to be known, not just on MÁV but also worldwide, as “M62s”.
M62 loco no.628165 is seen at Győrszabadhegy, being passed by M41 no.418108 on a passenger train, 24/04/15 (JW)
The M62s were not the immediate across-the-board success that the NoHABs had been – developed as they were in the Soviet Union, and not specifically for Hungary’s requirements, they did not feature any sort of train heating capability (Russian convention being to heat each coach individually). As a result, steam vans had to be cobbled together – initially using boilers retrieved from withdrawn class 275 2-4-2T steam locos – and then electric train heating vans, in order to make them viable motive power for passenger trains through Hungary’s colder months.
In contrast, the M61s proved ideal “out of the box” and met all expectations, and MÁV was very pleased with them. It is no secret that those involved in their operation would have liked more. NoHAB were certainly equipped to build them, and even offered a more powerful version (using a 20-cylinder 645-series power unit, as in the DSB MZ class, as opposed to the M61s’ 16-pot 567-series power units).
However, as these would need to be sourced from a non-Comecon nation, and as a loco of the equivalent power classification was now available from the Soviet Union, any further orders were always going to go to Lugansk and not Trollhättan – regardless of the real-world differences in MÁV’s early experiences of the two. Further M62 teething troubles required ironing out even as further batches were ordered and delivered, although it must be conceded that the locos eventually settled down to give good service over many decades.
MÁV’s M62 fleet eventually totalled 288 machines, by far and away Hungary’s most numerous diesel locomotive type. Eventually, over 7,000 production series M62-type locos went on to be produced, for markets as far afield as Cuba, Mongolia and North Korea – but MÁV’s M62.001 (still going today) was the very first of them. It’s an interesting “what might have been”, though, to consider how different Hungary’s motive power scene would have looked over the last half a century if the circumstances or timeline had been slightly different.
The above is a link to a video uploaded to YouTube by Becsky András featuring some interesting M61 scenes from 1996.
The last M61 was withdrawn from normal service in 2000, however seven survive – all still in Hungary – and can semi-frequently be sampled on mainline railtours and occasional seasonal service trains.
As an aside, Di3.623 – the demonstrator from 57 years ago that led to the M61 order – was withdrawn from private use in Sweden following fire damage in 2014. It was purchased the following year by the Hungarian NOHAB-GM Foundation and “repatriated” to Budapest where, after repair, it will join their operational fleet, ostensibly as “M61.623”.
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One of the most popular European diesel locomotive types is the “Ludmilla” family; powerful machines built in the Soviet Union for the Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germany. Of a total fleet of 873 locos, only 242 are thought to remain extant – roughly a sixth of which have now left Germany.
One of the machines now in Romania is 232653, seen here at Berlin Schönefeld Flughafen on a very long freight train, 21/04/06 (JW)
This article is not intended as a history of these locos, although I am in the process of writing one. Rather, this is a roll-call of those that have survived to the current date (01/05/17), with details of where they can now be found, plus dates of recent photographs and sightings, with links to them.
This list is correct and up-to-date to the best of my knowledge, but trying to keep tabs on several hundred locomotives spread across the continent can be like herding cats – so if you’re aware of any corrections required, please let me know!
Today, there are two 232s that carry variations of the number “232446”, but neither of them are the original! SGL (Schienen Güter Logistik GmbH)’s V300.18, the UIC number of which is 92 80 1232 446-5 D-SGL, is the body of 232387 with the innards donated by the real ‘446. More confusingly, the former 232227, now working for Ecco Rail in Poland, carries “BR232-446”. The SGL machine is seen here on an engineers train at Esslingen, near Stuttgart, 28/11/15 (JW)
15th May 2016 saw “Lollo” V160 002 (DB 216 002) work a mainline railtour from Treysa to Klein Mahner and back, to the delight of a large contingent of British enthusiasts on board.
British modern traction enthusiasts have been travelling to foreign shores in significant numbers to feed their interest for over 40 years. Although – as I hope this website will show you – the decision to make this first trip can be the gateway to an almost infinite number of different railway experiences, the first time that many ventured overseas was in search of things that reminded them of home; exported ex-BR “EM2” electrics in the Netherlands, for example, or Vulcan Foundry-built 8 and 16-cylinder English Electrics in Portugal. But one of the oldest and most enduring subjects of our attention have been the Maybach-powered diesel-hydraulic locomotives of the former West Germany.
The “Western” class diesel-hydraulics of British Rail were the first modern traction type to gain a significant following, and after D1013 and D1023 drew to a halt at London’s Paddington station at 23:41 on Saturday 26th February 1977, it was assumed that the glorious sound of Maybachs would never again be heard on the front of a train on the main line in the UK (that assumption, by the way, was wrong!). That was an experience now to be found only overseas, predominantly in West Germany with the Deutsche Bundesbahn V200.0 class of locomotives, which were built with twin MD650 power units and Voith transmissions and were the forerunners of our own “Warship” locos. These lasted in main line passenger service until 1984; you can still rely on a sizeable British booking on most railtours hauled by preserved machine V200 033 even now.
The V200.0s may have been almost identical to BR’s Swindon-built D800s, not least visually, but they were certainly not the only Maybachs that Deutsche Bundesbahn had had.
V160 002 at Salzgitter Bad, 15/05/16 (JW)
It’s a commonly-repeated misconception that the Vorserienloks (prototype batch) of Class 216 – the first ten machines of the “V160 family” that eventually totalled 800 locos, some of which are still in use on front-line passenger work today – were the same as BR’s D7000 “Hymeks”. This is not strictly true – the German machines were indeed built with Maybach MD870 power units, as were as the “Hymeks”, but they had Voith as opposed to Mekydro transmissions, and this does make an appreciable audible difference.
The last of this small batch of 10 machines, nicknamed “Lollos”, worked its last train for DB in 1981. This was not the end of the story, though, as five examples escaped the cutter’s torch – one for preservation (V160 003, although this has now sadly lost its MD870), and four for private non-passenger use – three of these ended up in Italy, and one, V160 002, in Spain.
This article is not a history of Maybach traction in Germany, however (that will come at a later date). This is a review of a railtour hauled by a truly hellfire locomotive.
V160 002 worksplate detail (JW)
A bit of historical scene-setting first, though: V160 002, later numbered 216 002, was repatriated from Spain by a private individual in 2010 and restored in the works at Neustrelitz. It emerged in 2015 in almost-original condition, and as well as some work on main line freights for RailSystems RP, worked passenger trains at a special event on the Kurhessenbahn in the September 2015, a trip paired with V200 033 in April 2016, and some heritage-themed shuttles between Coesfeld and Dorsten in May 2016. Its first proper solo railtour, however, was scheduled for 15th May 2016, and this was immensely popular with British enthusiasts. A fair few, like me, had never even had the chance to ride behind a “Hymek” on the main line, so it was a totally new experience.
This was a trip starting at Treysa and running via Kassel, Göttingen, Hildesheim, Oker and Vienenburg to Braunschweig. The run between Hildesheim and Oker was with the express intention of commemorating the reign of the DB class 218 “rabbit” locos, which had been withdrawn from service on the much-loved Hannover to Bad Harzburg route which used this section of line, at the end of 2014.
The “Lollo” ran round at Braunschweig and headed south the short distance to Salzgitter Bad where, after another reversal, it gained the route to the tour’s nominal destination of Klein Mahner, home and operating base of the Dampflok-Gemeinschaft 41 096 e.V.
Klein Mahner was a familiar destination to those of us who had travelled on the “Stahlstadtexpress” railtour in May 2014, which itself had been operated as a farewell to Braunschweig’s 218 447.
323479 at a brief photo stop at Werlaburgdorf, 15/05/16 (JW)
However, on that occasion, the 218 had not been permitted to traverse the full line, and it had been the only motive power of the day. This visit was to prove different. One of the railtour coaches was uncoupled, and taken forward to the end of the line at the junction of Börßum and back by diminutive class 323 (Köf) diesel shunter, 323 479. It was perhaps hard to believe that this loco was 82 years old at the time, its entry to traffic having been on 12th October 1933!
Back at Klein Mahner, we regained the V160 and set forth on a brief tour of the freight-only lines threading through the sprawling steelworks complex that sits between Salzgitter and Peine. Some of us, again, were no strangers to this route – it also having featured on the 218 447 railtour in 2014 – but it was an interesting way to spend an hour or so, nonetheless. The noise levels were ramped up a notch or several when we regained the main line, however, which was well-received by all! Although there were to be two further reversals, that was the branch lines dispensed with for the day, and thrash and speed were sustained all the way back to Treysa.
I think it is no exaggeration to say that everybody who travelled on this railtour was very impressed with the loco. The atmosphere on the train was brilliant, and apart from those with D1015 at the helm, it eclipsed every railtour I’ve travelled on in the UK in recent memory in just about every aspect.
I made a video of the day and uploaded it to YouTube, and it can be seen below. It’s 24 minutes long, but it gives a good overview of the day, with plenty of MD870 thrash for you to enjoy!
V160 002 has recently re-entered traffic after a period out of service, and is advertised for a sensibly-priced and timed railtour from Piesberg (near Osnabrück) to the Christmas market at Goslar on Saturday 9th December 2017, followed by another on Saturday 3rd February 2018 from Münster Hbf to Willingen and return (link).
If you like your diesel-hydraulics, you will certainly not regret ensuring you are there!