DB class 181

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DB class 181
DB 181 213 (08.10.1985) .jpg
E 310
181.0 and 181.1
Numbering: E 310 001–004
from 1968:
181 001–002
181 103–104
181 201-225
Number: 4th 25th
Manufacturer: Mechanical part:  Krupp
Electrical part:  AEG
Years of construction: 1966 1974-1975
Retirement: until 2003 until 2018
Axis formula: Bo'Bo '
Service mass: 84.0 t
Length over buffers: 16,950 mm 17,940 mm
Height: 3612 mm
150 km / h 160 km / h
Power system : 15 kV 16 2/3 Hz ~
25 kV 50 Hz ~
Number of drive motors: 4th
Speed ​​switch: Infinitely variable traction control via thyristor converter with phase control as well as 5-stage fine cam switch for field weakening
Drive: Rubber ring cardan drive 
Continuous output : 3,240 kW 3,300 kW
Starting tractive effort: 275 kN 277 kN

The DB series 181 includes dual-system locomotives that were procured by the Deutsche Bundesbahn from 1966 onwards especially for cross-border traffic to France and Luxembourg . The pilot series was called the E 310 series when it was commissioned . After 1968, these four prototypes were classified as class 181.0 and 181.1 in the DB class scheme due to technical differences , before 25 series locomotives were put into service as class 181.2 from 1974 .


As early as 1960, the Deutsche Bundesbahn had gained experience with two-system locomotives of the E 320 series (from 1968: series 182), but the machines were not able to convince and their top speed was no longer effective. Therefore the four-system locomotive of the class E 410 (from 1968: class 184) was developed first. The class E 310 (from 1968: 181) was derived from this as a two-system locomotive for the German (15 kV 16.7 Hz) and the French (25 kV 50 Hz) AC system .


Pre-production locomotive 181 001 freshly repainted in ocean blue / beige in Saarbrücken (July 1983)

After extensive test runs , the four dual-system locomotives were put into scheduled operation in 1966. These locomotives were primarily used in passenger transport in front of express trains between the French cities of Metz , Saarbrücken , Kaiserslautern , Mannheim , Heidelberg or Darmstadt and Frankfurt am Main . In freight traffic , the locomotives were mainly used between Saarbrücken Rbf and Forbach / Grenz as well as Trier and Perl / Apach , after 1979 with the sister locomotives of the 184 series . The parade operations from 1970 to 1975 included the TEE  50/51 Goethe between Metz and Frankfurt / Main in front of former Inox cars of the TEE Mistral .

The pilot series locomotives distinguished mainly by their electric brake : the E 310 001 and 002 had a dynamic brake , so they built the kinetic energy of the suspended train with braking resistors from. The other two machines fed the electricity generated during braking back into the catenary network . From 1968 the locomotives with braking resistors became the sub- series 181.0 , which with the regenerative brake became the 181.1 .

Today only 181 001 of these machines exist. It is stationed as a museum locomotive of the Deutsche Bahn in the DB Museum Koblenz . The 181 002 suffered an accident in 1987 and was taken out of service, the 181 103 was z-z-zipped in 1984, the 181 104 in 1993.


Cross-border rail traffic experienced a real boom in the following years , and further routes between France, Luxembourg and Germany were electrified . This resulted in an increased need for multi-system locomotives. Therefore, the Federal Railroad ordered twenty-five more machines of the 181 series in 1972, but these were technically improved again. These changes, which mainly affected the drive and the control electronics, were so extensive that they were referred to as the 181.2 series. The locomotives were delivered from 1974 to 1975. The most striking external difference on the three removable engine room hoods is that the fan grilles have been pulled up to the edge of the roof. The higher fans made it possible that the air could no longer be directed through the engine room , but directly to the traction motors . The traction motors, however, were of the same basic type, with identical continuous output . The top speed was increased with a higher permissible speed of the electric motors from 150 km / h to 160 km / h.


181 205 in front of an IC in Wittlich near Trier
181 211 “ Lorraine ” in front of an IC in the Moselle valley
181 201 in front of a freight train in Neunkirchen (Saar) Hbf

As the pilot series locomotives were also these machines in rapid rail Metz-Saarbrücken-Kaiserslautern-Mannheim-Heidelberg / Darmstadt-Frankfurt used, often with Corail wagons of the SNCF . Likewise, the fast and were fast trains on the routes Saarbrücken-Trier-Koblenz ( Saar Railway , Mosel route ) to the inserts in passenger transport. The use of freight trains was limited to the Saarbrücken – Forbach / Grenz, Trier – Perl / Apach and Wasserbillig –Luxembourg routes, where the locomotive also came with passenger trains.

They were later deployed between Strasbourg - Kehl - Karlsruhe and Stuttgart . The locomotives were used for return services in front of domestic French passenger trains on the Strasbourg – Metz route. It was not until 1990 that the 181 series were used in front of the new Saarbrücken – Mannheim – Stuttgart interregional trains, where they were replaced by the new 120 series locomotives only one year later due to the new Mannheim – Stuttgart line .

The locomotives were also used in EuroCity traffic. Terminals were Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof , Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof , Leipzig Hauptbahnhof , Luxembourg , Metz and Strasbourg . However, Luxembourg was still reached with intercity trains, which have been discontinued from 2014. They were also used in cross-border freight traffic. In order to better utilize the locomotives, they are also used within Germany, e.g. B. used to Koblenz , Heidelberg and earlier also Basel .

Depot for the 181er has long been the Bw  Saarbrücken. Since 2004 it was the Bw Frankfurt / M. In 2010 not all of the locomotives were in use, three of the series-production locomotives (181 202, 181 216 and 181 217) had already been scrapped. On the other hand, new general inspections were carried out on class 181 locomotives until 2012 .

Because of their area of ​​operation, four locomotives were baptized in the names of the regions they traveled through: 181 211 " Lorraine ", 181 212 " Luxembourg ", 181 213 " Saar " and 181 214 " Mosel ".

After the start of the Intercity Express service between Frankfurt and Paris and the TGV service between Munich / Stuttgart and Paris, the areas in which the 181 series was used continued to shrink. Since December 2007 they were to be found before trains on the IC line Norddeich –Luxembourg between Koblenz and Luxembourg, and partly on the IC line between Frankfurt (Main) and Saarbrücken. Since the timetable change in December 2013, the pair of trains IC 360/361 no longer started or ended in Strasbourg, but in Basel Bad Bf, so that no 181 trains were used as planned for these services. With the discontinuation of IC traffic between Koblenz and Luxembourg when the timetable changed in December 2014, the use of the 181 series fell rapidly.

On the evening of December 12, 2009, the 181 218 brought the last scheduled Orient-Express ( EN 469) at 20:37 from the departure station in Strasbourg to Karlsruhe, where it was replaced by a locomotive of the Austrian Federal Railways . In doing so, she said goodbye to one of the most famous rail connections after more than 120 years.

Since the timetable change in December 2011, the class 181 locomotives have increasingly hauled the Intercitys on the line between Stuttgart and Zurich ( Gäubahn (Stuttgart – Hattingen) ) alongside class 101, 115 and 120 locomotives.

Since December 2014, only four locomotives of the series have been used as planned. The main area of ​​application was the intercity between Frankfurt and Saarbrücken. For this reason, 181 were increasingly retired in the following time. In the timetable from December 2015, the intercity to Saarbrücken was omitted. Except for a Euronight covering (Paris-Moscow) from Strasbourg to Karlsruhe and back, no more scheduled long-distance trains were covered with a 181. Most recently, the 181s were occasionally used in front of freight trains between Saarbrücken Rbf, Trier, Neunkirchen and Kaiserslautern-Einsiedlerhof.

On December 8, 2018, the class 181 was finally parked at DB.


181 206 at a vehicle parade of the DB Museum in Koblenz - Lützel , a branch of the Transport Museum in Nuremberg
Control panel of the 181 001

The wheel arrangement is Bo'Bo ', so the locomotives have two bogies with a total of four traction motors and four individually driven axles . The power is transmitted by means of a rubber ring cardan drive . In the pre-production series, the wheelset guidance was still implemented using rubber roll springs, while the lemniscate linkage was used in series production. In the pilot series, the tests showed that at speeds of 120 km / h or more, the locomotives ran restlessly due to vertical vibrations in the vehicle frame. Therefore the pins of the bogies were shortened and their linkage moved upwards. However, this increased the tendency to skid when starting up. With the series locomotives, the Krupp company was able to fall back on experience with the DB class 151 , from which the Lemniskatenlenker was taken over. The center distance of the bogies has also been reduced. All of this resulted in improved running properties.

The locomotives obtain their energy via two pantographs with contact strips of different lengths for the different areas of application from the 15 kV / 16 2/3 Hz or 25 kV / 50 Hz contact line. The voltage is fed to the main transformer via a main switch operated by compressed air. On the secondary side, the traction motors are controlled by thyristors using stepless phase control, a technology that was modern at the time, as were the comparatively light mixed current motors. Mechanical switchgear was no longer necessary, and the vehicle control system also works with modern electronics. For a good frictional connection between rail and wheel, the converters always regulate a slightly lower tractive force for the leading wheel sets of each bogie. However, if one or more wheel sets skid, the drive control regulates the tractive force back briefly.

The locomotives are capable of multiple traction and push-pull trains , but cannot be used with the existing control cars. The reason for this is the lack of technology for the other power systems in the control cars. As a result, the control cable does not fit at two poles, making push-pull train operation impossible.

Taking into account the lower-hanging overhead line in France, the decision was made to use a locomotive body with a lower overall height. A special feature is the asymmetrical equipment with windows and ventilation grilles. One side has seven grilles, while the other has the same number of windows instead of the three middle ones. The almost 17 meter long, 84 ton heavy locomotives reach speeds of up to 150 km / h for the prototypes and 160 km / h for the series machines with continuous outputs of 3300 kW.

In the engine room there was only one Z-shaped central aisle instead of the previous two side aisles.

Color variations

The first locomotives were delivered in the cobalt blue paint scheme that was still common at that time for express locomotives . From 181 211 the new ocean blue-beige color scheme was used. It wasn't until 1992 that the first 181.2 was launched in an oriental red lacquer with a white bib on the forehead. From 1998 the traffic red paint became common on the first locomotives .

After the sale by DB Fernverkehr AG in May 2020, locomotive 181 215 was given the red-beige IC paintwork for the class 181, which was never historical, but was often fantasized by railroad fans.


181 218-9 in Strasbourg (2014)
Locomotive number Painting Comments / whereabouts
181 001-9 blue Museum locomotive DB Museum Koblenz- Lützel, not operational
181 201-5 blue Freshly painted blue in October / November 2010, general inspection, temporarily leased to DB Cargo by DB long-distance transport, retired in 2018, DB Museum Koblenz-Lützel locomotive
181 202-3 orient red scrapped January 11, 2006 in the AW Dessau
181 203-1 orient red scrapped January 2, 2013 at Theo Steil GmbH in Eschweiler-Aue
181 204-9 blue Named locomotive "Rügen", sold to SEL
181 205-6 traffic red
181 206-4 blue Museum locomotive DB Museum Koblenz-Lützel until 2018, then parked in Hamm and Leipzig. On May 1st, 2020 in the DGEG Museum Neustadt / Wstr. transferred as an exhibit for more recent south-west German railway history.
181 207-2 traffic red z-posted (January 2015), scrapped on June 21, 2017 at Bender Recycling GmbH in Opladen
181 208-0 traffic red z-posed, former spare parts donor, dismantled July 2013 in the AW Dessau
181 209-8 traffic red scrapped at the end of June 2017 at Bender Recycling GmbH in Opladen
181 210-6 traffic red z-posted (January 2015), scrapped on June 23, 2017 at Bender Recycling GmbH in Opladen
181 211-4 traffic red Named locomotive "Lorraine", painted traffic red in June 2012, full inspection
181 212-2 traffic red Named locomotive "Luxembourg", transferred to Stolberg / Rhl Gbf on April 13, 2014 and scrapped on May 14, 2014 at Theo Steil GmbH
181 213-0 ocean blue / beige sold to SEL, painted in ocean blue / beige since June 27, 2020
181 214-8 traffic red Named locomotive "Mosel", z-placed (January 2015), scrapped on June 19, 2017 at Bender Recycling GmbH in Opladen
181 215-5 red / beige sold to SEL. Painted in red / beige IC color by holder nordliner since May 1st, 2020.
181 216-3 traffic red scrapped November 29, 2007 at the Dessau plant
181 217-1 ocean blue / beige scrapped June 4, 2003 at Bender in Opladen
181 218-9 traffic red z-posted (December 2017), parked in Hamm (Westphalia)
181 219-7 traffic red reactivated December 2, 2008, z-posted (January 2015), scrapped on June 23, 2017 at Bender Recycling GmbH in Opladen
181 220-5 traffic red z-posted (January 2015), scrapped on June 22, 2017 at Bender Recycling GmbH in Opladen
181 221-3 traffic red scrapped February 2008 Dessau plant
181 222-1 traffic red transferred to Stolberg / Rhl Gbf on April 13, 2014. Scrapped.
181 223-9 traffic red z-posted (January 2015), scrapped on June 24, 2017 at Bender Recycling GmbH in Opladen
181 224-7 orient red scrapped on January 2, 2013 at Theo Steil GmbH in Eschweiler-Aue
181 225-4 traffic red z-posted on September 1, 2006, scrapped by Steil, Eschweiler on May 15, 2014


  • Successful frequency change - The series 181.2 marked the beginning of the successful use of two-frequency locomotives between Germany and France. In: Modellisenbahner. Bad Waldsee 2006, 2 (February). ISSN  0026-7422
  • The German multi-system locomotives. Railway courier special. Vol. 77. EK-Verlag, Freiburg 2005.
  • Andreas Rossel, Joachim Gutjahr: Class 181.2 - two-system locomotive of the Deutsche Bundesbahn . Railway picture archive. EK-Verlag, Freiburg 2006. ISBN 3-88255-364-2
  • The two-system electric locomotives, class 181.2, of the Deutsche Bundesbahn. In: Lok Magazin , issue 85, July / August 1977, pp. 259–265.

See also

Web links

Commons : DB Class 181  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Gäubahn-IC receives old locomotives on schwarzwaelder-bote.de , August 30, 2011
  2. The class 181 electric locomotives of the DB ( Memento of the original from March 17, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on 181er.de (PDF; 3.2 MB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.181er.de
  3. ^ Farewell to 181 201 . In: railway magazine . No. 5 , 2018, ISSN  0342-1902 , p. 35 .
  4. This is how the locomotive was named in Mukran , Ostsee-Zeitung from June 4th, 2020, accessed on June 7th, 2020
  5. a b Locomotives - in the end. Retrieved November 30, 2019 .
  6. a b c d e f turntable online forums :: 03/02 - picture sightings :: => BENDER: 181 chord ... 181 219 .... (with 6B.) <=. Retrieved December 5, 2017 .
  7. Turntable Online Forums :: 03/02 - Image Sightings :: => BENDER: Update (m.4B) <=. Retrieved December 5, 2017 .
  8. ^ Udo Krupp: Class 181: Existence and whereabouts . In: Udo Krupp . ( udokrupp.de [accessed December 5, 2017]).
  9. www.revisionsdaten.de - The ONLINE vehicle database on the Internet. Retrieved July 29, 2020 .
  10. Future for DB-181 . In: railway magazine . No. 2 . Gilching 2020, p. 30 .
  11. ^ Udo Krupp: Class 181: Existence and whereabouts. Retrieved December 10, 2018 .