History of the railways in Germany

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Title page of Friedrich List's book about a Saxon railway system as the basis of a general German railway system and in particular about the construction of a railway from Leipzig to Dresden . Leipzig 1833

As the first locomotive-operated railway in Germany , the Ludwigseisenbahn began public passenger transport on December 7, 1835. This drove between Nuremberg and Fürth. It had the usual track width of 1435 mm ( standard gauge ) that is still used today . On June 11, 1836, there was an initially one-time freight transport, two barrels of beer were transported in a third class wagon. From autumn 1839 two passenger cars were converted to regular freight transport. The construction of new railway lines was first carried out by private companies -  private railways  - and soon also by states - state railways .

After the Reich was founded in 1871 , the individual member states of the German Empire operated a number of state railways as regional railways with their own administration. The numerous private railways built during this period generally served regional and local traffic. After the First World War , the state railways in the German Reich of the Weimar Republic were initially transferred to the administration of the Reich as the Deutsche Reichseisenbahnen in 1920 and merged into a single state-owned company in the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft founded in 1924 , which took over most of the railroad traffic in Germany.

After the end of the Second World War , as a result of the division of Germany with the Deutsche Bundesbahn in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Deutsche Reichsbahn in the German Democratic Republic, two state railways were established. After German reunification in 1990, the two state railways were merged into Deutsche Bahn AG through the 1994 rail reform , private rail companies were given non-discriminatory access to the rail network and local rail transport was transferred to the federal states through regionalization.

Railway lines and railway companies

The forerunners

German hunt with a guide nail (in the picture: F), based on a depiction from 1556 by Georgius Agricola ( De re metallica libri XII ), also the predecessor of all modern rail vehicles.

The forerunners of the railway can be found in Germany as well as in England mainly in the mining industry . Underground who used in the promotion ran Loren initially on wood rails and were either a track nail or Leitnagel between the rails or wheel flanges of the wheels out.

In the Ruhr coal mining , an approx. 30 km long network of horse-drawn trams was built from 1787 in order to rationalize the transport of coal to the loading points on the Ruhr even above ground. However, the route network in the Ruhr area at that time was not used for public transport. Some of these railways already ran on iron rails - therefore the term "railroad" according to the German understanding already applies to them. The Rauendahler Schiebeweg in Bochum (1787) or the Schlebusch-Harkorter coal railway (1829) from those early years can still be visited today. In Austria and Bohemia, the Budweis – Linz – Gmunden horse-drawn railway was built between 1827 and 1836 .

The development of the first operational locomotives in England ( Richard Trevithick 1804, John Blenkinsop 1812) and the opening of the first public railway, the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825 , gave a major impetus to the railway in Germany. In Germany, too, existed before the first real "railways" drove, attempts to start rail operations with locomotives. In 1815 , Johann Friedrich Krigar built a copy of the steam locomotive from Blenkinsop for the Königshütte in Upper Silesia with the steam car from the Königliche Eisengießerei Berlin and in 1818 another locomotive for the 1.8 km long Friederiken railway , a coal railway, which was converted from wooden to iron rails in 1821 at Geislautern in Saarland , which could drive, but did not meet expectations because of insufficient performance.

Railways in what was to become German territory from the beginnings in the early 19th century to 1870

In the first half of the 19th century, the emerging railways in Germany were received differently by people. While entrepreneurially minded people like Friedrich Harkort and Friedrich List saw the railroad as an opportunity to revitalize the economy and overcome paternalism, especially in Germany, and therefore advocated the construction of railroads as early as the 1820s and early 1830s, they feared others from the smoke of the locomotives or saw their own income endangered by them.


In 1833 the economist Friedrich List (1789–1846) published a draft for a German railroad system in Leipzig

Friedrich Harkort founded a consortium in 1820 with the aim of building a horse-drawn tram from the coal mining area of ​​Schlebusch to Haspe . The Schlebusch-Harkort coal railway with a length of one Prussian mile , approx. 7½ kilometers, was essentially completed in 1828 and was the first railway to start operating on this length. The coal was transported on the narrow-gauge railway with horses. From April 1, 1876, steam locomotives began operating . Today the railway is shut down and dismantled. Remnants of the route can still be viewed. The superstructure and the wagons were later used in roughly the same way when the Deilthal Railway was built .

With the laying of an iron-studded railroad by the Deilthaler Eisenbahn Aktiengesellschaft, founded in 1828, the first railway line still in use on German soil was built south of Essen . The superstructure of the track was, according to one description of oak sleepers on which pairs so-called Strasbourg trees ( wood rails ) with a length of 3.30 m were fastened with wooden nails. Iron rails with a thickness of 40 mm were again attached to the road trees with wooden nails. The track width was initially only 82 cm . The route was also a Prussian mile long. On September 20, 1831, the Deilthal Railway was inaugurated by Prince Wilhelm , a son of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II. , And has since been allowed to call itself Prince Wilhelm Railway Company (PWE) . Until 1844 it was operated as a horse-drawn tram to transport coal . As early as 1833, passenger cars were also available “for pleasure”. In 1847 the railway was expanded to standard gauge and ran between Steele Süd and Vohwinkel as a steam-powered railway called the Steele-Vohwinkler Railway . The route between Essen and Wuppertal is now used by S-Bahn line 9 .

The " Adler ", built in 1835, connected Nuremberg and Fürth , photo shortly after 1850

However, majority and officially is the 1835 from the private railway company Louis in Nuremberg by the engineer Paul Camille Denis built Ludwig railway regarded as the first railway in Germany because they new steam locomotives began. It was officially opened on December 7, 1835 with a trip from Nuremberg to Fürth , after test drives with the “ Adler ” locomotive had already been carried out. The Englishman William Wilson carried out this first journey and was the first train driver in Germany. In the contemporary public, traveling on a steam locomotive was seen as the beginning of a new era. The decision of the Ludwigs-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft in favor of the English system with its type of rail and gauge , wheel flanges , vehicles and other things also had a normative effect, since later German railways also adopted the system, which was obviously operational. However, the development of the German route network bypassed this line, there was no link with other rail lines. Eventually it got additional competition from the electric tram between Nuremberg and Fürth. On October 31, 1922 its operation was stopped and the route was used for a high-speed tram .

Route network 1849

This was followed by the first railway of Prussia the Berlin-Potsdam Railway : the 11km long route from Zehlendorf to Potsdam was opened on 22 September 1838; the 12 km extension from Zehlendorf to Berlin on October 29, 1838.

From December 1, 1838, the Duke Brunswick State Railroad ran between Braunschweig and Wolfenbüttel . As the first railway in Germany to be owned by the state, probably to prevent a takeover by Prussia, it was sold to Prussia in 1869 due to financial difficulties in the duchy.

The Düsseldorf-Elberfeld Railway , opened on December 20, 1838 with the Düsseldorf - Erkrath section , was the first steam train in the Rhineland and the Prussian Rhine Province .

The first railway line in Hesse was the 41.2 km long Taunus Railway between the Free City of Frankfurt and Wiesbaden as the capital of the Duchy of Nassau , which was put into operation in four construction phases between September 26, 1839 and May 19, 1840.

First long distances

The Leipzig-Dresden Railway was opened on April 24, 1837 with the section from Leipzig to Althen as the third German railway and was completed on April 7, 1839 to Dresden . With a length of 120 km, this was the first German long-distance railway and the first exclusively steam-powered railway in Germany. The route also included the first German railway tunnel and the oldest railway bridge in Germany near Wurzen , which is still in operation today .

On June 29, 1839, the first section of the Magdeburg-Leipzig railway from Magdeburg to Schönebeck was opened; after expansion to Halle and Leipzig in 1840, it was the first cross-border long-distance railway with a route length of 116 km.

The line from Cologne to the Herbesthal border station with a connection to Antwerp , built in 1839/43 by the Rhenish Railway , was the first railway line to cross an external border of the German Confederation on October 15, 1843 .

On September 12, 1840, the Grand Duchy of Baden opened as a state railway route from Mannheim to Heidelberg as the first section of the 285 km long Baden Mainline from Mannheim to Basel , the 1845 August 1, Freiburg reached and was completed in the 1855th In contrast to all the surrounding railways, a broad gauge with a gauge of 1600 mm was used in Baden until 1854/55 .

On September 12, 1841, the Berlin-Anhalt Railway Company started traffic from the Anhalter Bahnhof in Berlin to Koethen (Anhalt) , where the route met that of the Berlin-Potsdam-Magdeburg Railway Company . Köthen thus became Germany's first railway junction .

On August 1, 1842, the line Berlin - Eberswalde Hauptbahnhof was opened, the extension to Angermünde took place on November 15, 1842.

With the opening of the Berlin-Frankfurter Eisenbahn on October 31, 1842 from the Berlin Schlesischer Bahnhof to Frankfurt (Oder) , the only loosely tied German railroad network had reached a total of almost 1,000 km.

On August 15, 1843, the entire Berlin – Stettin line was officially opened, and operations began on August 16, 1843.

On October 22nd, 1843 the first line of the Royal Hanoverian State Railways was opened with the 16 km long “Kreuzbahn” from Hanover to Lehrte . Lehrte became an important railway junction early on , with routes to Berlin , Cologne , Hildesheim and Harburg at the gates of Hamburg .

The 108 km long railway line from Altona to Kiel , opened on September 18, 1844, was built under Danish sovereignty , was located on Prussian territory after the German-Danish War in 1867, was bought by the Prussian state in 1887 and incorporated into the Prussian State Railways .

The first section of the Cologne-Mindener Railway Company from Deutz to Düsseldorf was opened on December 20, 1845, the second to Duisburg on February 9, 1846. The following year was reached on 15 May on Dortmund then Hamm , and on 15 October 1847, the entire 263 km long route was to Minden finished first single track. On the same day, the Hanover – Minden line of the Royal Hanover State Railways went into operation.

On September 1, 1846, with the opening of the last section ( Frankfurt (Oder) - Bunzlau ) of the 330 km long Lower Silesian-Märkische Railway, the two largest cities in Prussia, Berlin and Breslau, were connected. The main line of the Upper Silesian Railway , which was built at the same time, reached Gleiwitz in October of that year . The route network in the German Confederation had more than doubled within three years.

Three and a half months later, on December 15, 1846, the Berlin-Hamburg Railway went into operation, the 286 km long diagonal connection between the two largest cities of what would later become the German Empire .

Also in 1846, the Main-Neckar Railway from Frankfurt am Main to Mannheim and Heidelberg went into operation in several stages .

Central European network

Locomotive for the Cologne-Minden Railway, delivered by Borsig in 1848

In the north, reached on May 1, 1847 railway Celle-Harburg that for the Hanoverian State Railways Kingdom of Hanover belonging Harburg on the Elbe .

In the autumn of that year, there were continuous east-west connections:

An inner-city connection between the various Berlin terminal stations was still missing until 1851, when the Berlin connecting line started operating.

On October 18, 1847, the connection of the Upper Silesian Railway to the Cracow-Upper Silesian Railway created a continuous connection from Wroclaw to Cracow . With the completion of the inner-city connecting track between the terminal stations in Breslau, there was also a continuous rail connection from the Rhine to the Vistula from February 3, 1848 .

With the closure of a short gap between the Wilhelmsbahn in Upper Silesia and the Emperor Ferdinand's Northern Railway in Austrian Silesia , a first coherent Central European network was established on September 1, 1848, stretching in the west to Deutz on the right bank of the Rhine , in the north to Harburg, in the east to to Warsaw and Krakow and in the south to Gloggnitz at the northern foot of the Semmering Pass . There were still small gaps in Berlin and Hamburg to the northern railways.

The following year, 1849 was the railway line Halle-Bebra the Thuringian Railway and the Hessian Friedrich-Wilhelms-Nordbahn a link from Berlin via Halle (Saale) / Gerstungen way to Kassel .

The connection between the southern German states of Baden and Bavaria took a little longer: the Main-Weser Railway established the connection from Berlin to Frankfurt am Main via Kassel in 1852, from where the Main-Neckar Railway continued to Mannheim. The Badische Hauptbahn from Mannheim to Basel and on to Konstanz went into operation in several stages between 1840 and 1861.

The connection Berlin - Munich was completed on the Saxon-Bavarian railway line Leipzig – Hof (1842–1851) and the Bavarian Ludwig-Süd-Nord-Bahn (1844–1849).

European network

Baden Row IX, built 1854–1863
Route network 1861

After taking over the Cologne-Krefeld Railway , which opened around the turn of 1855/56, the Rheinische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft , founded for the route to Belgium, began to build a route upstream from Cologne on the left bank of the Rhine, which was operated from January 1, 1857 to Rolandseck , 1859 to Bingerbrück, today Bingen main station , where in the same year the main line of the Hessian Ludwigsbahn was extended, which has connected Mainz with Ludwigshafen since 1853 .

With the opening of the Cologne Cathedral Bridge on October 3, 1859, the Western European rail network, consisting of the French and Belgian networks and German lines on the left bank of the Rhine, was combined with the Central European network, which now extends to Flensburg , to Königsberg (Prussia) (today Kaliningrad), to Rzeszów in Galicia , in Hungary over the Tisza and as far as Trieste on the Mediterranean.

In 1860 the Prussian Eastern Railway was extended to the Russian border behind Eydtkuhnen (today Chernyshevskoye). With the opening of the branch line Wilna (lit.:Vilnius) –Kaunas–Wirballen (Russian Вержболово and Polish. Wierzbałowo, lit .: Virbalis ) of the Petersburg-Warsaw railway to this border crossing at Kybartai , the first link between European standard gauge and Russian was created Broad gauge network .

The pursuit of the state railway

Locomotive of the private Mecklenburg Railway , built in 1866

The authorities of the German states faced the newly emerging railway system with different attitudes. Part of the initiative was left to the entrepreneurs, and part of the attempt was made to promote a state-run railway, most notably in the southern German monarchies of Baden , Bavaria and Württemberg . Prussia , on the other hand, initially relied on private railways, but later took over some railroads that were in economic difficulties under state administration, such as the Bergisch-Märkische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft .

Locomotive for the Berlin-Hamburg Railway , delivered by Borsig in 1873

After the unification of the empire in 1871, the attitude in Prussia changed; especially Otto von Bismarck drove the development towards the state railway system. Great military strategic importance was ascribed to the railway . Numerous measures were used to try to create a joint German state railway. Ultimately, this was only achieved in the interwar period (1918–1939): the Deutsche Reichsbahn was founded in accordance with the Weimar Constitution . In detail, there were the following early and important approaches to creating "state railways":

  • In Baden, on March 29, 1838, the "law on the construction of a railway from Mannheim to the Swiss border near Basel" was passed and promulgated on April 2, 1838. This was followed by several individual laws that concerned financing, "compulsory assignments", the establishment of a railway directorate and operating regulations.
  • In Württemberg , on April 18, 1843, King Wilhelm I promulgated the “Law on the Construction of Railways”, according to which railways “should be taken over into the administration of the state or built at the expense of the state”. In addition to the state railways, the construction of further branch lines should be left to private companies. However, there were then comparatively few private railways in Württemberg.
The Fürth crossing was the first transfer station between two railway lines in Germany in 1845 (between Ludwig-Süd-Nord-Bahn and Ludwigseisenbahn )
  • In Bavaria , the private Munich-Augsburg railway company started building the railway in 1839 and opened its route from Munich to Augsburg on October 4, 1840 . The Bavarian state railway began with its nationalization in 1844. The Royal Bavarian State Railways initially built the Ludwig-Süd-Nord-Bahn with a length of 548 kilometers between Hof and Lindau from 1844 to 1853 .
  • The Frankfurt National Assembly deliberated in 1848/1849 on the constitution of a German Empire as a federal state. Here, consideration was given to nationalizing the railways and having them administered by the imperial government in order to strengthen the "imperial power". In addition to the concern about extensive interference, it was then doubted that an inevitably widely ramified federal authority would be more effective than the previous state administrations. The result was § 28 of the Paulskirche constitution , with which the Reich authority was granted the overall supervision and the right to legislate over the railways and their operation "insofar as the protection of the Reich or the interest of general traffic is required". The constitution never came into force, so that particularism and the coexistence of private and state railways in Germany's railway system continued.
  • At the beginning of the railway era, Prussia also strove for a state-owned railway, but was prevented from doing so by the constitutional situation. In order to take out a corresponding amount of credit to finance a railway, the approval of a “Reichsstandischen assembly” was required, but this did not exist and the “Provincial Diets” refused to take the place of the Reichsstandischen assembly. The Prussian law on railway undertakings (prEG) of November 3, 1838 was therefore largely limited to supervisory provisions, with regard to concessions, sovereign rights and railway police, etc., but reserved the Ministry of Commerce to give its approval. However, this law did not result in private railways being built to the desired extent, especially for the sparsely populated areas in eastern Prussia, no private railroad companies were found.

A renewed attempt in 1847 to persuade the provincial assemblies to approve the raising of capital for the construction of the Prussian Eastern Railway failed, although the state parliament generally supported the construction of the railway at state expense. In the same year, on April 1, the Kingdom of Saxony took over the financial difficulties of the private Saxon-Bavarian Railway Company and operated it together with other railway companies that were later bought up as the Royal Saxon State Railways .

After the failure of the 1848 movement in Prussia, the banker August Freiherr von der Heydt was appointed Minister of Commerce and thus responsible for the railways. Von der Heydt was a supporter of the state railroad idea and promoted nationalization. He initially arranged that the Prussian Eastern Railway and other routes were built and operated at state expense. Then von der Heydt brought an implementation law through parliament in which the earmarking of Section 38 of the prEG was redefined. The provision of § 38 provided for a fee for the private railways, which should serve to compensate the postal administration for the displacement of the stagecoaches by the railroad. According to von der Heydts' new version, a fund should now be created that was to serve to buy up the private railways by the Prussian state. After violent protests by the railway companies, this provision was completely repealed and the levy was converted into a general tax. In addition, Section 48 of the prEG was used to buy up private railways that had got into financial difficulties. At the end of the 1850s, liberal views prevailed in Prussia, which, among other things, called for the state to withdraw from the railway system and for free enterprise for railway construction. After von der Heydts was dismissed in 1869, Count Heinrich Friedrich von Itzenplitz became his successor. This was a supporter of the private railway idea and promoted numerous start-ups in his position.

The efforts to establish a state railway in Prussia were not pursued any further at this point, in order not to allow a new point of contention to arise after the constitutional conflict over military reform that had been settled by Bismarck , as would have been the state expenditure for railway construction. In addition, in 1866 the Kingdom of Hanover and various Hessian areas with their own railway lines were annexed, adding 1200 kilometers to the Prussian railway network, which meant that the state railway administration was busy integrating these lines.

The state of development of the German route network in 1896. Original contemporary map

The following state railways were established up to the establishment of the Empire in 1871:

Railway sovereignty

The sovereignty of the railways, i.e. the right of the state to grant concessions for the construction and operation of railways and to supervise the operation, exists regardless of who is the owner of the respective route and who is operating it.

The North German Confederation , founded in 1867, left the railroad sovereignty to the individual states.

In 1869, the Bavarian Prime Minister Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst suggested the formation of a German railway association based on the German Customs Association , with which the participating state railways should agree on common operating rules and uniform tariffs. However, the proposal found no support.

After the founding of the empire in 1871 , Bismarck's imperial constitution largely left the federal states with sovereign rights over the railways. However, Article 43 made it possible for the Reich to supervise the operational safety of individual railways and Article 45 to control the tariff system.

Art. 42 said: "The federal governments undertake to manage the German railways as a uniform network in the interests of general traffic and, for this purpose, to have the new railways to be built and equipped according to uniform standards." So instead of the Reich this regulatory task This wording emphasized that the powers with regard to the railways belonged to the individual countries alone. It was therefore also called a "Railway Emergency Act".

The international depression that followed the Vienna stock market crash in 1873 made it difficult to finance private railways with foreign capital, which had been widespread up until then. The companies were heavily indebted by investing in routes and rolling stock and cut off from financing on the stock exchange due to the economic crisis. At the same time, the states' interest in closer coordination of the railways increased.

In the 1870s, the diverse coexistence of private and state railways became an increasingly serious problem, with different tariffs significantly hampering the handling of national transports. Standardization was called for more and more in public.

Albert Maybach became the first head of the new Reich Railway Office in 1873 .

In order to implement the constitution and at least partially enable the Reich to supervise the railways, Otto von Bismarck proposed the creation of a Reich Railway Authority in 1873. Against the opposition of some federal states, 130 MPs also submitted a non-partisan application for the establishment of a “ Reichseisenbahnamt ” (REA). Despite the resistance of the federal states, the corresponding law passed the Reichstag and Bundesrat . On September 16, 1873, the office in Berlin began its work under the direction of Albert Maybach . It was supposed to oversee the railway system, which is due to the Reich, to carry out the provisions contained in the Reich constitution and the other laws relating to the railway system, and to remedy defects and grievances.

Bismarck's hopes for the efficiency of this authority were not fulfilled, however, since § 4 of the law stipulated that the REA had to carry out its activities within the framework of the constitution, which in turn largely granted the states the powers over their channels. In order to remedy this, an executive law was to be created that regulated the supervisory powers of the Reich over the railways in more detail. In April 1875 a draft law of the REA was submitted to parliament, which essentially granted the Reich unrestricted supervision over the railways. However, it was rejected by the country representatives. A more tactical Prussian attempt to surrender its state railways to the Reich was not approved by the other countries in the mid-1970s.

Länderbahn time 1871 to 1920

Since the introduction of a Reich Railroad Act was not promising, Bismarck now pursued the plan to build a large-scale state railroad which, through its sheer superiority, was to force the other states to give in. Bismarck initially transferred all railway affairs in the Kingdom of Prussia to the newly created Ministry of Public Works (law of August 7, 1878) and appointed the former Reich Railway Authority Maybach, now Prussian Minister of Commerce , as Minister of Public Works. In 1879 Maybach proposed to the Prussian House of Representatives to take over four important railway lines with a total length of 3,500 km. Due to the favorable financial situation of Prussia, most of the private railways could be taken over within a few years, so that in 1885 around 11,000 km of former private railways had passed into Prussian state property. In this context, the railway directorates in Prussia were independent companies, each with their own administrations, which, for example, also developed their own vehicles (“Hanover type”) that were taken over by other directorates if required.

Route network 1899

Although many existing private railways were gradually nationalized after the founding of the empire, especially in Prussia under Paul von Breitenbach , numerous new private railroad companies for regional and local traffic in areas that supported the state rail network could not or would not cover. One of the pioneers in the construction of these secondary railways was the railway entrepreneur Herrmann Bachstein , whose Central Administration for Secundairbahnen, founded in Berlin in 1879, carried out the construction and operation of over 50 railway lines throughout Germany, which later became the Süddeutsche Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft AG in 1895 . The railway construction and operating company Vering & Waechter GmbH & Co. KG , founded in 1885, at times included up to 40 small and branch lines. The Lokalbahn Aktien-Gesellschaft (LAG) , founded in Munich in 1887, was mainly active in the Bavarian region.

In the Kingdom of Prussia, the agriculturally structured areas in the north and east often required further development. Since the Prussian state, despite the large surpluses of its Prussian state railways, was unable to provide enough funds for the construction of branch lines, the " Law on Small Railways and Private Connection Railways" was passed on August 17, 1892, which regulates the construction of local railways should facilitate. It also served as a model for other countries and triggered a wave of new railway construction, so that by the beginning of the First World War in 1914, over 300 railway lines with a total length of more than 10,000 km had been completed. The railway construction and operating company Lenz & Co. GmbH , which was founded in 1892 immediately after the Prussian Small Railroad Act came into force and was involved in the construction and operation of around 100 railways, developed into the most important private branch and small railway company in Germany . As an important management company, Lenz founded the East German Railway Company in Königsberg in 1893 and the West German Railway Company in 1895 .

The Prussian minister for public works, Karl von Thielen , issued new regulations on January 5, 1900 about the working hours and rest times of railway officials. The duration of the daily shift of the train attendants and the locomotive drivers should no longer exceed sixteen hours, even if longer breaks were taken.

In 1897, the Prussian Railway Directorate of the Hesse-Nassau Province and the Grand Ducal Hessian State Railways formed a Prussian-Hessian Railway Community ; In the same year, this also acquired the then largest German private railway, the Hessische Ludwigs-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft . The regional railways of the individual states remained strictly separate. At the national borders there were border stations where the locomotives were changed. Prussia and Saxony, for example, fought against each other for traffic to Bavaria and Berlin; Württemberg and Bavaria for the connection between Frankfurt and Munich; the Reichseisenbahn in Alsace and the Grand Ducal Railway in Baden for north-south traffic to Switzerland.

Prussian class P8 , built 1906–1923

In 1912, according to the information provided by the railway administrations (processed in the Reichs-Eisenbahn-Amt - Volume XXXIII - accounting year 1912 - Berlin 1914), the following regional railways were operating in Germany:

Statistics of the state railways in operation in Germany in 1912 (excluding colonial and private railways)
Surname Standard gauge
Narrow gauge
Grand Ducal Baden State Railways 1,753.71 27.53
Grand Ducal Mecklenburg Friedrich-Franz Railway 1,093.78
Grand Ducal Oldenburg State Railways 651.53
Royal Bavarian State Railways 8,034.35 115.45
Royal Saxon State Railways 2,814.17 507.75
Royal Württemberg State Railways 1,997.67 101.28
Royal Prussian Military Railway 70.52
Imperial Railways in Alsace-Lorraine 2,021.93 78.10
Prussian-Hessian Railway Community 38,790.44 239.31
State railways (total route length: 58,297.52 km) 57,158.10 1,069.42
Notes on the list

For December 31, 1913, the length of Germany's entire railway network is given as 63,377 km.

The consequences of nationalization

The nationalization also changed the environment of the railways. Until now, the individual companies placed great emphasis on crossing the tracks of other companies by bridges or underpasses as far as possible in order not to have to pay train path fees to the competition, but these considerations were now outdated. As a result, railway operations could be rationalized.

At that time, the steam locomotives experienced numerous technical improvements. The number of driven axles was increased and the efficiency of the steam engine improved through the introduction of superheated steam technology. This increased the maximum speed of express trains from 90 km / h to 120 km / h.

As a result of the economic boom and the increasing population, strong urban growth began at the turn of the century, which resulted in a much greater use of urban and suburban railways. Berlin alone recorded a million passengers a day. (→  History of the Berlin S-Bahn )

Deutsche Reichsbahn 1919 to 1945

The Weimar Constitution and the Deutsche Reichsbahn

The need to amalgamate the railroad administrations became evident during the First World War . The constitution of the German Reich of 1919 stipulated that the railways serving general traffic should be owned by the Reich and administered as a unified transport company. The transfer of all railway sovereignty and the associated expropriation were also regulated. Through the State Treaty of April 30, 1920 between the Reich and the states of Baden , Bavaria , Hesse , Mecklenburg , Oldenburg , Prussia , Saxony and Württemberg , the state railways were retroactively transferred to the Reich on April 1, 1920.

After the Reichseisenbahnen could only generate a third of its own costs in 1923, the proposal was made to decouple it from the state budget and, in return, to cancel all grants. As a result, a decree was issued in February 1924, which granted its administration extensive autonomy from the state administration.

The Dawes Plan developed in 1924 envisaged, among other things, pledging the entire Reichseisenbahnen to the reparation creditors. The Reich government then issued the ordinance on February 12, 1924 to create the Deutsche Reichsbahn as a state-owned company. Since these measures did not go far enough for the reparation creditors, the law establishing the private-sector "Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft" (DRG) to operate the Reichsbahn was passed on August 30, 1924. Simultaneously with this law, the company was burdened with a bond in favor of the winner in the amount of eleven billion gold marks. The world economic crisis and the constant outflow of money through the reparations payments (around 660 million Reichsmarks annually) put a considerable strain on the Reichsbahn. Only in 1931 was the Reichsbahn released from its financial obligations by the Lausanne Agreement.

During this time, the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft tried to rationalize the existing, heterogeneous vehicle fleet by purchasing new vehicles, so in 1925 the standard locomotive program was created. In 1928 the Railway Construction and Operating Regulations (EBO) were issued, which regulate the condition of the railway facilities "for all railways serving general traffic in Germany".

With the law on the reorganization of relations between the Reichsbank and the Deutsche Reichsbahn of February 10, 1937, the Deutsche Reichsbahn was returned to Reich sovereignty.

The connection with the Austrian Federal Railways

After Austria's annexation in 1938, the "Law on the German State Railroad" was issued on July 11, 1939. It determined in § 1:

Under the name “Deutsche Reichsbahn”, the Reich administers the Reichseisenbahn property as a special fund of the Reich with its own economic and accounting management.

in § 1 paragraph 2:

a) The Reichseisenbahn assets also include the Austrian federal assets held in trust by the company “ Österreichische Bundesbahnen ” up to March 17, 1938 and the assets of the economic entity “Österreichische Bundesbahnen” including all public and private rights and liabilities of these two assets that are based on the regulation of March 17, 1938 (Reichsgesetzbl. I p. 252) are administered by the Deutsche Reichsbahn as special assets of the Reich
b) the railways and their subsidiary operations in the Sudeten German territories, insofar as they have become part of the Reichseisenbahn assets according to the ordinance of October 19, 1938 (Reichsgesetzbl. I p. 1446), and the previous state railways and their subsidiary operations in Memelland.

Management of the Reichsbahn

From 1920 to 1924 the management of the Reichsbahn lay with the respective Reich Minister of Transport , the individual departments of the ministry or their state secretaries took over the operational management. With the establishment of the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft, management was transferred to the newly created post of General Director. This was supported by several board members.

The former Reich Minister of Transport Rudolf Oeser was the first general director of the Reichsbahn from 1924 to 1926 . His successor from 1926 was Julius Dorpmüller , who had also been Reich Minister of Transport since 1937. This amalgamation of the two offices was also formally anchored in the Reich Railway Act of July 11, 1939. It determined in § 3:

(1) The Reich Minister of Transport is the head of the Deutsche Reichsbahn. As such, he bears the designation of General Director of the Deutsche Reichsbahn. He is responsible for the management of the Deutsche Reichsbahn.
(2) A State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Transport (Deputy Director General) and ministerial directors of the Reich Ministry of Transport (board members) are at his side in the top management.

Dorpmüller remained Transport Minister and General Director of the Reichsbahn until the end of the Third Reich.

Route length of all railways in the German states
year Length in km


~ 38000

Note: The diagram and table also take into account the historical development of Germany's size . The German Confederation had a different expansion than the German Empire and after both world wars extensive territorial cedings to Germany's neighbors were pending, which of course also affected the railroad network. The time of both world wars with the extensive German annexations in the war zones was completely left out.

His representative Albert Ganzenmüller (1905–1996) is the only former senior Reichsbahner against whom a criminal case was opened for aiding and abetting (mass) murder due to his involvement in the Nazi persecution of Jews . The proceedings never came to a verdict, as Ganzenmüller was considered incapable of standing from 1973 until his death.

Transitional period 1945 to 1949

In 1945 the occupying powers took over the operation of the railway in the respective occupation zones. A uniform Deutsche Reichsbahn in its previous form no longer existed. The division into four occupation zones resulted in several transitional regulations between 1945 and 1949 .

With the formation of the British-American bizone , the " Headquarters of the Railway of the American and British Occupation Area" was established in Bielefeld in 1946 , which was renamed the "Deutsche Reichsbahn in the United Economic Area" in 1947 and relocated to Offenbach am Main . After the Federal Republic of Germany was founded on September 7, 1949, it was converted into the " Deutsche Bundesbahn ". Subsequently, the for the time being independent " Betriebsvereinigung der Südwestdeutsche Eisenbahnen " ( Betriebsvereinigung der Südwestdeutsche Eisenbahnen ) of the French occupation zone was included, which was not finally taken over by the Federal Railroad until 1952.

German Federal Railroad 1949 to 1994

In the course of the division of Germany , 47 railway lines between West and East Germany were shut down. Due to the state obligation to employ refugee or expelled railway employees from the east, the Deutsche Bundesbahn employed around 539,000 people at the end of 1949, almost a fifth more than necessary. The 3rd class, also known as wood class, was abolished in 1956 - in the narrower sense the former first class was abolished and the old second and third class were upgraded accordingly after some cosmetic improvements (including replacement of unpadded wooden benches). In 1960 the 1000th electric locomotive and the 1000th  diesel locomotive were put into operation at almost the same time  , with 7250 steam locomotives still in use.

Although the railway was the most important means of transport in the three western occupation zones ( Trizone ) and the Federal Republic of Germany well into the 1960s, it did not succeed in posting black numbers. The state-owned company had to face the onset of mass motorization from the outset and, on the other hand, bear the costs of rebuilding the railway systems that had been destroyed in the war . The consequence of this competitive pressure was the closure of numerous unprofitable branch lines , especially in the 1960s and 1970s. In the same period, almost no new lines were put into operation. On the other hand, in comparison to other European countries (Great Britain is to be mentioned here in particular), a considerable part of marginal branch lines was maintained. Furthermore, electrification made progress, while elsewhere (GDR, Denmark, UK, Ireland) primarily diesel was used.

In 1977 the electrified route network reached a length of 10,000 kilometers. In the same year, the last steam locomotives were taken out of service and completely replaced by electric and diesel locomotives. In freight transport , the shipment of general cargo was completely discontinued after the competition against the trucking industry could no longer be held out. During the same period, the transport of bulk goods such as coal and iron ore also declined. As a result of this development, a large number of marshalling yards were shut down.

Due to the economic sluggishness of the bureaucratically controlled state corporation and the competition from other means of transport, the mountain of debt of the railway increased from 10 billion marks (1963) to 30 billion marks (1978). As part of the DB 90 optimization program , the company's competitiveness was to be improved. In 1985 the Deutsche Bundesbahn was still the third largest employer in the Federal Republic and employed 322,383 people.

Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) 1949 to 1994

The designation Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) was retained for the state railway in the Soviet occupation zone and from 1949 the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The reason for this was the operating rights in Berlin, which, according to a tacit agreement of the four occupying powers there, belonged to the Deutsche Reichsbahn. Renaming would have resulted in the loss of the operating rights in the western part of the city. The DR received its operating rights on September 1, 1945 through Order No. 8 of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany ( SMAD ). The transport department of the SMAD was initially authorized to issue instructions to the Deutsche Reichsbahn for a long time.

As part of the nationalization in the GDR, the DR also took over the operation of almost all private railways in its area. In view of the low motorization of the population in the GDR, the railways were of enormous importance for traffic. Sometimes more goods were transported than on the Deutsche Bundesbahn network, which is more than twice as large. In 1986 the Deutsche Reichsbahn achieved a transport rate for goods (considered over their entire transport route and for all goods transported) of a remarkable 86%. Moderately measured fares were charged for passenger transport . The maximum speed of the trains in passenger traffic was 120 km / h, which was also due to the large proportion of slower freight traffic on the tracks. Planning for traffic speeds of up to 160 km / h turned out to be economically unrealizable. The DR stations and facilities were protected by the transport police , which were part of the Ministry of the Interior.

By order of the SMAD, all systems necessary for the electrical operation had to be dismantled and delivered to the Soviet Union as reparations. Thus, the electrified route network comprised only a few local direct current trains with a total length of 38.5 km and the Berlin S-Bahn with 252 km. Re-electrification began in the early 1950s. The inaugural train ran on September 1, 1955.

Despite its great economic importance as a means of transport, the rail network has been neglected for decades. The superstructure was partially in poor condition due to overused single-track lines, where the second track was dismantled by SMAD as reparations for the Second World War . It was not until the mid-1970s that maintenance expenses were increased. The switch to concrete sleepers was a lossy mistake, as the sleepers disintegrated after a few years due to an incorrect concrete mix.

Percentage of traction types in the Deutsche Reichsbahn (1974)

To replace the steam locomotives, the DR relied on diesel locomotives. However, due to the ever-increasing oil prices and receding imports was electrification in 1975 on the basis of secure and crisis-independent electricity supplies from domestic brown coal - fired power plants intensified.

The route length in 1979 was 14,164 km, of which only 1,621 km were electrified and a total of 290 km consisted of narrow-gauge routes. In 1988, ten years after the Deutsche Bundesbahn , the DR also ceased steam locomotive operations on its standard-gauge lines ; steam traction only remained on the DR narrow-gauge railways due to their historical and tourist importance and the lack of suitable locomotives. The operation then took place predominantly with diesel locomotives , but the electric traction gained increasing importance.

In West Berlin , the DR had the operating rights for the state railway lines and thus also for the operation of the Berlin S-Bahn . Despite organizational difficulties, this was continued after the Berlin Wall was built in 1961, as the GDR leadership found it useful to have a legal location in West Berlin that could be used indirectly for activities outside of rail operations. Since the Deutsche Reichsbahn exercised the domiciliary rights with its own transport police on the facilities, there was only very limited access for the authorities in West Berlin. With the fares for the S-Bahn, the GDR tried to pursue political propaganda by denouncing the tariffs of the western BVG as capitalist- oriented. At the same time, the S-Bahn suffered from the boycott by large parts of the West Berlin population. After a strike by West Berlin Reichsbahn employees, the DR shut down large parts of the West Berlin S-Bahn network in the early 1980s. At the same time, the GDR agreed to negotiate a handover of the S-Bahn. In 1984 the West Berlin BVG took over the operating rights for the S-Bahn in West Berlin, but the operation of the West Berlin long-distance train stations and the freight traffic remained under the control of the Reichsbahn until the Deutsche Bahn AG was founded.

On January 1, 1994, in the course of the reunification of Germany , the DR was converted to the federal railway assets together with the Deutsche Bundesbahn and with an entry in the commercial register of Berlin-Charlottenburg on January 7th into the company Deutsche Bahn AG organized under commercial law . In preparation and implementation of the merger of the two German state railways, there was a massive reduction in staff .

Deutsche Bahn AG from 1994

Since the state-owned companies were obviously not reformable - in 1993 the West German Federal Railway lost 9.4 billion marks and the East German Reichsbahn lost 6.1 billion marks, the two state railways were converted into a stock corporation. The Bundesrat approved by the Bundestag , the railway reform on December 17 1993rd On January 1, 1994, the Federal Railroad and the Reichsbahn merged into a private company called Deutsche Bahn  AG. An originally planned partial privatization is limited to the regional areas, but the structure of rail traffic has changed considerably. The public viewed the change critically and with mixed feelings. Regional transport services are now being put out to tender and DB Regio is now one of many competitors. With a few exceptions, DB Fernverkehr operates long-distance transport independently, although domestic and foreign railways are free to offer long-distance transport themselves. All users of the railway infrastructure, in turn, pay fees to DB Netz or other railway infrastructure companies for this use. There is repeated political disagreement about the amount and form of these fees.

Technical development

First vehicles and their further development

Drawing of the Geislautern steam car from 1819
Replica of the first Adler steam locomotive operated in Germany by Robert Stephenson
One of the first passenger cars of the Bavarian Ludwig Railway from 1835 in the original, created under the direction of the engineer Paul Camille von Denis

Vehicle inventory

Vehicle stock in the years 1950-2005
(up to and including 1990 old federal states; from 2000 Germany)
year Locomotives
power cars
Freight wagons
State Railways
car private car

Total freight wagons
Passenger cars
1950 13,700 270,000 32,600 25,100
1990 8,900 206,800 52,100 11,500
2000 13,700 117,448 64.056 181.504 13,900
2005 13,200 96,551 64,059 160.610 12,000

Beginnings of electrical operation

Germany always played a pioneering role in the development of the electric drive system for rail vehicles, to which Werner Siemens (from 1888: von Siemens) and the Siemens & Halske companies he founded and their successor companies up to today's Siemens Mobility contributed. Other companies, such as Brown, Boveri & Cie. Founded in Switzerland in 1891 , are also available. AG (BBC) or AEG made significant contributions to the development of electric train transport.

1925: The standard steam locomotives

After the merger of the state railways to form the Deutsche Reichsbahn , the locomotive inventory of the new national railway company comprised more than 200 different types and designs of steam locomotives. Freedom of use of the locomotives within the rail network was significantly impeded and maintenance and repair work was very costly due to the availability of a large number of different spare parts.

In addition, due to the extensive reparations payments due to the lost World War 1914-18, the vehicle fleet of the German railways was considerably reduced regardless of the variety of types. This resulted in a need to build a new one and, sensibly, to standardize the new machines to be procured. Economic aspects and the intention to expand the main lines uniformly for an axle load of 20 t led to the development of new types of locomotives instead of the most tried-and-tested types of regional railways for the entire Reich. This is how the standard locomotives of the Deutsche Reichsbahn were created, the first of which were built in 1925. In the course of the first post-war years, however, the Reichsbahn had still purchased a large number of locomotives from the newer Länderbahn series. This was intended to compensate for the losses due to the delivery of locomotives after the Armistice from Compiègne to the Entente and also to secure jobs in the locomotive industry. The onset of inflation enabled the Reichsbahn to procure comparatively cheaply. The result was that the standard locomotives were initially only procured to a very limited extent and the expected cost advantages did not materialize, rather the variety of types was further increased. It was not until the end of the 1930s that the Reichsbahn was able to significantly increase its procurement as part of the armament of the Third Reich.

Standard electric locomotives and electrification at the DB

Memorial plaque for the 5000th electrified kilometer

After the Second World War , the existing electric locomotives in the Federal Republic of Germany were initially sufficient for the operation of the southern German network. In 1950, the Federal Railroad decided to purchase two new basic types to expand the electrical network, a six-axle freight locomotive based on the DR class E 94 and a multi-purpose locomotive based on the DR class E 44 . The driver's cabs should be built in such a way that the train drivers could do their work while sitting. From 1952, all well-known locomotive factories in Germany initially delivered a total of five test locomotives of the E 10.0 series .

The test program showed that two types of electric locomotives were not sufficient to meet all performance requirements. The revised type range now contained

  • the express train locomotive E 10 (class 110) for the long-distance traffic of the time with a maximum speed of 150 km / h,
  • the freight locomotive class E 40 (class 139/140) for 110 km / h, largely identical, but with a different gear ratio and thus a higher tractive effort,
  • the class E 41 commuter locomotive (class 141), less powerful for 120 km / h and
  • the heavy freight locomotive series E 50 (series 150) for 100 km / h.

All locomotives in the standard electric locomotive program follow uniform design principles. The bogies are welded box constructions with pivot pins. The E 50 has three axes (with an asymmetrical axis arrangement for better cornering), otherwise two-axis. The locomotive bodies, which are also welded, differ essentially only in their length and the arrangement of side windows and ventilation grilles. The frame is supported by coil springs and rubber elements on the bogies.

Later on, the class E 10.12 express locomotive was modified for higher speeds of up to 160 km / h (later class 112, today class 113/114/115), the class E 10.3 uses the locomotive body of the E 10.12 with more pronounced "crease" face .

As the successor to the 110 series, the DB series 111 was built with the same performance but a more powerful gearbox and a top speed increased to 160 km / h. For the 150 series , the DB series 151 was launched with higher performance and a top speed increased to 120 km / h.

In the 1960s, the electrification of the route network was accelerated. In 1963 the number of electrified lines had grown to 5000 km.

In 1977, the Deutsche Bundesbahn stopped steam locomotive operations in West Germany.

Locomotives of the DR

Diesel locomotives

Within the Comecon , responsibility for the construction of heavy diesel locomotives (because of the large production capacities available there) was primarily transferred to the Soviet Union . Therefore, the construction of medium-weight diesel locomotives V 180 (later class 118) had to be stopped in the GDR. The 119 series - nicknamed "U-Boot" - imported from Romania for this purpose were technically so inadequate and unreliable that they had to be brought to operational condition at great expense and even the engine had to be replaced. The first generation of the Russian diesel-electric locomotives V 200 (class 120) was so loud that it was affectionately known as the "Taiga drum". Since electrification progressed only very slowly until the 1970s, numerous large Russian diesel locomotives of the classes 130 to 142 were delivered.

Electric locomotives

The electric locomotive building program in the VEB Lokomotivbau Elektrotechnische Werke (LEW) "Hans Beimler" in Hennigsdorf was u. a. Successful with the series 211 , 242 , 243 and for heavy goods traffic with the 6-axle series 250 . The newer series 243 from the 1980s with a top speed of 120 km / h is still in use in large numbers in the local transport of Deutsche Bahn, as is the series 212 developed in parallel.

Train protection and train control

In Germany, the first signal box from which points and signals could be remotely controlled and centrally secured was put into operation in 1867 by the English company Saxby & Farmer in Stettin , at that time still with control levers and subsequent interdependencies between the levers. Saxby & Farmer only introduced patented locks in their interlockings in 1874. For German railways, the companies Bruchsal, Jüdel and Zimmermann & Buchloh developed their own designs with registers, cross-locked control levers and routes created in several steps, which were manufactured by others under license or reproduced with modified details. The Bruchsal machine works of engineers Schnabel and Henning introduced vertical locking registers and experimented with different crank mechanisms for route selection. The many, mostly incompatible designs of mechanical interlockings led to maintenance difficulties, especially for the large regional railway administrations, which themselves had already emerged from the merger of numerous companies. Under the leadership of the Prussian State Railways, work was therefore carried out on standardization at the beginning of the twentieth century. On the basis of the Jüdel design, several manufacturers developed the »mechanical standard interlocking«. After five prototype systems erected in the west of Berlin in 1911 had proven their worth, this "unit design" was declared binding throughout the Reich after a few changes based on operational experience in 1915. Until the mid-twenties, systems of the old types were also built in order to use up stocks of materials still in stock. Unity interlockings were then supplied by all active German signaling companies. In 1928, through the merger of many signaling companies , the United Signalworks was created , which continues to exist as the signal construction division of Siemens. The route safety was essentially introduced by the block works of the company Siemens & Halske , which transfer the release of the block by the other terminal station to the locking register of the own lever bank through mechanical locks and thus establish the signal dependency on the exit signals.

The first series-ready type of electromechanical interlocking was created in 1896. With these, the outdoor systems are operated electrically and thus independently of the physical strength of the staff, but the dependencies between the operating devices are still largely mechanically implemented. Through the intermediate stages of the 1901 and 1907 designs, the design in 1912, which was declared a standard design, reached a certain degree in single-row lever mechanisms. From 1943, the colored disc monitoring was replaced by lamp monitoring (E43). Two- and four-row lever mechanisms, which were developed from the twenties, on the other hand, did not reach large numbers.

After the Second World War , priority was given to restoring the old facilities. The relay technology of telecommunications technology offered inexpensive starting material for new solutions. At C. Lorenz AG in Berlin, this was used to develop vibration-resistant signal relays, with which new, robust interlocking circuits were created. In 1948 Siemens delivered the first fully operational track diagram interlocking (relay interlocking) to the West German railway administration. Siemens and Standard Elektrik Lorenz (SEL), which later emerged from C. Lorenz after the takeover by the American ITT Corporation , developed the relay interlockings as standard equipment for the West German Federal Railways until the 1980s . Since 1951 the plant for signaling and safety technology in Berlin has been producing comparable technology for the Deutsche Reichsbahn , until a new generation of interlockings was created in the late 1980s through newly developed electronic interlockings , in which new deliveries are made today.

An externally controlled emergency braking when a "stop" signal is passed has been used by the Deutsche Reichsbahn since the 1930s under the name " Indusi - inductive train protection" on main lines, later by the Deutsche Bundesbahn and further developed for punctual train control (PZB).

Since 1975 is Linienzugbeeinflussung (LZB) used h for trains with speeds above 160 km /. A route control center (central computer) monitors the train journey via a line conductor laid in the track. The vehicles use this connection to report their position and speed to the route control center. This calculates individual reference variables for each train and shows the driver via the driver's cab displays the target and target speed and the distance to the next speed change. Compliance with the target values ​​is monitored in the vehicle.

Since 2001 a directive of the European Union has stipulated a standardization with a new train control system , which is to prove itself in the first test installations under the title European Train Control System (ETCS).

High-speed traffic and high-speed traffic

Speed ​​increases until 1914

  • 1903 AEG and Siemens & Halske carry out high-speed tests with three-phase high-speed railcars near Berlin; the top speed achieved is 210 km / h.
  • 1907 A class S 2/6 locomotive of the Royal Bavarian State Railroad sets a new speed record for steam locomotives at 154 km / h .
  • With the D-train travel speed is increased h to nearly 90 km / year 1914th At the same time, as industrialization increases, so does freight traffic and the railways dominate almost all long-distance traffic. With the beginning of the First World War in 1914, however, repairs were limited to emergency repairs and further technical development did not take place.

Express traffic of the 1930s

Rail zeppelin in October 1930 on the test route

In a test run on June 21, 1931 , the engineer Franz Kruckenberg achieved a top speed of 230 km / h with a propeller railcar called " Schienenzeppelin " on the Hamburg-Berlin route.

The "Flying Hamburger" on a German postage stamp from 2006

From May 15, 1933, the DR 877 diesel express railcar - known as the "Flying Hamburger" - operated by the Deutsche Reichsbahn between Berlin Lehrter Bahnhof and Hamburg Hauptbahnhof . He needed 138 minutes for the 286 km long route - a travel time that was not reached again until May 1997 by an ICE operated by Deutsche Bahn AG . Each of the two parts of the multiple unit had a Maybach twelve-cylinder diesel engine with a DC generator connected to it and electric drive motors in the cradle bearing . With an output of 2 × 410  PS (2 × 302 kW), a top speed of 160 km / h was achieved. The "Flying Hamburger" was the prototype for the other express railcars of the SVT 137 series, types "Hamburg", " Leipzig ", "Cologne" and "Berlin".

The Henschel Wegmann train came as a complete steam-powered train set of the Deutsche Reichsbahn in the 1930s, in which the car of Wegmann & Co. and its steam locomotives of the series 61 of Henschel & Son were in Kassel, built both companies. Both the locomotive and the cars were clad in a streamlined manner. According to the timetable, the train ran between Berlin Anhalter Bahnhof and Dresden in a journey time of 100 minutes from June 1936 - unsurpassed until 2016. The construction of the train was a reaction of the locomotive and wagon construction industry to the new express railcars and was intended to show that steam technology could also keep up with the new speeds.

A similar train set as the "Henschel-Wegmann-Zug" was operated by the Lübeck-Büchener Eisenbahn from April 7, 1936 as a double-decker train between Hamburg and Lübeck-Travemünde, whose pioneering innovation already included a push -pull train service .

In 1936, locomotive No. 002 of the series 05 of the Deutsche Reichsbahn set a new world speed record for steam locomotives with 200.4 km / h . The maximum permissible speed for the streamlined steam locomotives of the 01 and 03 series was set at 150 km / h, that of the 05 at 175 km / h.

By 1939 a 6,000-kilometer network of high-speed connections had been built.

TEE - Intercity - Eurocity

In 1954, the Trans-Europ-Express Commission was founded with its headquarters in The Hague with the aim of building a European network of particularly comfortable and fast trains that only had 1st class seats . The Deutsche Bundesbahn was also one of the founding members .

In 1957, train operations began with state-owned modern diesel multiple units ; all trains had a uniform red and beige paintwork. The Deutsche Bundesbahn had its specially built diesel multiple unit of the VT 11.5 series run on several "TEE" routes . From 1965 onwards, the “ TEE Rheingold ” operated air-conditioned cars with electric locomotives on the Hoek van Holland - Geneva route . At the borders, however, time-consuming locomotive changes were due due to different traction current systems.

From 1971 onwards, the TEE were supplemented by initially purely “first-class” InterCity (IC) services that run every two hours . In part, the multiple units now run as BR 601 were used, with the “TEE” signet pasted over at the ends with an “InterCity” signet. In addition, locomotive-hauled trains were increasingly used. On some routes with signaling technology and hauled by the new class 103 locomotive , these trains reached a speed of 200 km / h.

In 1979, most of the TEE in Germany were replaced by InterCity with two car classes that ran on four lines every hour under the motto “Every hour, every class!”. In 1987 the last TEE connections were discontinued. At the same time, the EuroCity (EC), a new European train type for cross-border quality trains with 1st and 2nd class was introduced. Since December 2017, it has also been running on individual high-speed routes under the name EuroCity-Express .

High speed traffic

The previous ICE train InterCityExperimental was put into service in 1985
Numerous tunnels shape the appearance of the new lines. Here: ICE 3 in front of the Göggelsbuchtunnel , on the
new Nuremberg – Ingolstadt line that went into operation in 2006

Against the background of declining market shares of the railways in Germany, various options were examined from the 1960s onwards to strengthen rail traffic and to slow down the strong growth in traffic on the roads. An essential means of making the rail more attractive was seen in the acceleration of rail traffic. As early as 1965, individual scheduled passenger trains ran for the first time between Munich and Augsburg with a top speed of 200 km / h. In the early 1970s, the possibility of a north-south thoroughfare was examined in the high-speed express train study . In particular, trucks should be transported in closed rail vehicles. The first Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan in 1973 took up these considerations and proposed the implementation of around 950 km of new high-speed lines. Construction work on the new Hanover – Würzburg line began in the same year, followed three years later by the Mannheim – Stuttgart line .

While these first two newly built long-distance lines of the German railways had been laid out for top speeds of up to 300 km / h since the Second World War, it was initially planned to run regular InterCity trains with up to 200 km / h on these lines. At the beginning of the 1980s, the federal government and the railways decided to develop the InterCityExperimental, a high-speed train for express rail traffic in Germany. It entered service in late 1985. After an extensive series of test and record runs, this train set a new world record for wheel-rail vehicles on May 1, 1988 at 406.9 km / h as part of the ICE world record run .

The scheduled high-speed rail traffic in Germany began on June 2, 1991 with the commissioning of the Intercity Express system. The ICE 1 multiple units , which initially had speeds of up to 250 km / h , achieved travel time savings of up to two hours over around 430 km of new lines, combined with a high level of comfort. On the first ICE routes, the new trains achieved significant increases in passenger numbers compared to the previously used InterCity. With the ICE accident in Eschede on June 3, 1998, the worst train accident in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany occurred and at the same time the worst accident in the history of high-speed rail traffic worldwide.

Since September 1998, the ICE 2 has been running the high-speed route Hanover – Berlin at a speed of 250 km / h. With the ICE 3 , the new Cologne-Frankfurt line, opened in 2002, is driven at a speed of 300 km / h. On this route, as on the French TGV routes, no other passenger trains or freight trains can travel due to the up to 4% gradients. At the end of May 2006, the new Nuremberg – Ingolstadt line went into operation as a second line that was planned to be driven at 300 km / h.

With the ICE 3M , a multi-system vehicle was built in Germany after decades that can also drive in the Netherlands and Belgium, because only Austria, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden have the same traction current system as Germany. The retrofitted ICE 3MF version has also been running in the French TGV network since June 2007. There are also diesel-powered ICE-TD and electric ICE-T trains with tilting technology , which are also used in international traffic (Switzerland, Austria, Denmark).

As the youngest generation of the ICE to date, the Velaro D is currently being put into service, of which variants are also running in other European countries. Originally, it was planned to offer continuous connections to London with this train, but this is not foreseeable as of 2016.


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Web links

Wikisource: Railway theme page  - Sources and full texts

References and comments

  1. ^ Front page on digital.slub-dresden.de
  2. Goods, beer and cattle transport on the Ludwig Railway. Retrieved May 29, 2015 .
  3. Ludwig Hruza: Memories of the Railway Age, faz.net, January 10, 2020
  4. Wolfgang Mück: Germany's first railway with steam power. The royal private Ludwig Railway between Nuremberg and Fürth ( dissertation at the University of Würzburg ). 2. rework. Edition. Fürth 1985, p. 196, OCLC 214732497
  5. The 10 most spectacular railway bridges in Germany. marcopolo.de, accessed on April 6, 2020 .
  6. The first international railway line was opened on November 14, 1842, the first cross-border railway line in France from Valenciennes to Quiévrain in Belgium after July 6.
  7. According to the definition at the time, Vienna was the largest German city in 1846 with 521,289 inhabitants (Berlin 408,502, Hamburg 148,754).
  8. The Coron Chronicle - the 20th Century: 1900–1903 . S. 8. Coron-Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Stuttgart, ISBN 3-577-17101-4 .
  9. Württemberg Railways. In: Viktor von Röll (ed.): Encyclopedia of the Railway System . 2nd Edition. Volume 10: Transitional bridges - intermediate station . Urban & Schwarzenberg, Berlin / Vienna 1923, p.  444 (see Roman V. Statistics).
  10. ^ Reichsbahngesetz of July 4th, 1939 , accessed on February 13th, 2011.
  11. a b The post-war history of the railway. In: mobile. (The magazine of Deutsche Bahn). No. 5, 2009, p. 50.
  12. See also: The Reichsbahnerstreik of 1980 . Information from the website history and stories about the Berlin S-Bahn , requested on December 30, 2018.
  13. ^ Exceptions: Strausberg Railway , Erfurt Railway , Spremberger Stadtbahn .
  14. The post-war history of the railway. In: mobile. (The magazine of Deutsche Bahn). No. 5, 2009, p. 53.
  15. Mark Spörrle: Deutsche Bahn: Everything went better in the past. In: The time. 2nd January 2014.
  16. Wolfgang Mück: Germany's first railway with steam power. The royal privately owned Ludwig Railway between Nuremberg and Fürth . ( Dissertation at the University of Würzburg ). 2. rework. Edition. Fürth 1985, pp. 115-126, OCLC 214732497
  17. Federal Environment Agency: Data on traffic, 2009 ( Memento from October 21, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF)
  18. a b Federal Ministry of Transport (ed.): Transport in Figures 2000 . 29th year. Deutscher Verkehrs-Verlag, Bonn September 2000 ( bmvi.de [PDF]).
  19. a b Annual report of the Association of Private Freight Car Customers 2006 (PDF; 4.18 MB) p. 7.
  20. Alfred Gottwaldt : Wagner's standard locomotives: The steam locomotives of the Reichsbahn and their creators. EK-Verlag, Freiburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-88255-738-1 .