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HISTORY OF GERMAN RAILWAYS

Following the Napoleonic wars, a wave of industrialization spread over the European continent. Germany was an assembly of many autonomous states, as shown on the map, but lagged Great Britain in regards economic strength. German economists, such as Friedrich List, emphasized the importance of railway construction in order to be on a par with Great Britain.

The first railway line was constructed in 1835 in the Kingdom of Bayern with the permission of Ludwig I. It ran between Nurnberg and Furt and was quite successful thus stimulating other states to build similar lines. By the time Germany was unified, during the second half of the 19th Century, the private and state operated lines consisted of about 18000 km of track. After the end of the French-Prussian war, in 1871, railway construction boomed and competition between various lines was vigorous. Bismark, The Iron Chancellor of Prussia, promoted the nationalization of the railways since he believed this was the most efficient way to manage their activities.

Just as Prussia had been the leading force to unite the German people into one homogenous state, Prussian locomotives became the dominant style in certain sections of the country. The central, northern and eastern regions were influenced by Prussian locomotive designs which were simple but durable and reliable. A good example of this was the P-8, later known as the BR 38, and theT-l8, later known as the BR 78. The P-8 was a 4-6-0 mixed traffic locomotive which became the most widely used and popular locomotive ever built. The Royal Prussian Railway Administration owned 3370 of these locomotives which saw service throughout most of Europe. The T-l8, a 4-6-4T, was powerful, fast and had exceptional stability; more than 500 of these beautiful locomotives were eventually built. Both classes had a remarkably long life and utilized simple cylinders and rugged, interchangeable parts. They were fitted with superheaters which had been invented by Kassel's Wilhelm Schmid in 1898.

In contrast, the southern German states were influenced by French designs and were of a more liberal and innovative nature. While it is true that the terrain over which a locomotive must operate should have great relevance on the design, the locomotives which emerged were often elegant, efficient masterpieces which were not always in harmony with operational requirements. However, their performance leaves no doubt as to their capabilities. In 1907, the S 2/6 set a world record of 155 km/hr. This beautiful locomotive, which had 2200mm driving wheels, was a one-of-a-kind and remained in service for 1 8 years.

From the innovative Maffei factory in Munich came the S 3/6, the first Pacific type to be used in Germany and introduced during the 1907/1908 time period. The Bavarian version of the S 3/6 worked the famous Rheingold express both before and after WW II. Maffei also developed the herculean articulated 0-8-8-0 BR 96 compound. Compounding, or multiple expansion of steam, resulted in much better fuel and water economy since more energy in the steam could be utilized to perform useful work before being exhausted to the atmosphere. Only 25 BR 96s were built and they served for about 25 years over the steep grades of the Alpine Bavarian routes despite competition from other Prussian classes such as the T20, (BR 95).

In 1923, the German Federal Railways were established and all German locomotives were classified by Baureihe, or BR numbers, ranging from 01 to 99. Numbers 01 through 98 were reserved for standard gauge locomotives while number 99 was applied to narrow gauge equipment.

The 44 class were three cylinder simple expansion machines which proved to be trend setters and the best of all the Reichsbahn locomotives. They were more powerful than their predecessors and were exceptionally clean and balanced. Classes 42, 43, 50, 51 and 52 were based on the class 44 design although only the class 44 had three cylinders. The BR 45, a 2-10-2 three cylinder giant, was one of the most powerful locomotives ever built and operated successfully for many years. The BR 86 was a handsome 2-8-2 tank locomotive which replaced older locomotives which were no longer economically feasible to operate.

German industry and educational institutions made many significant contributions to the development of locomotive and railway design. In particular, A. Wohler conducted experiments to identify the reason for railway wheel/axle/rail failures which resulted in accidents which were killing several hundred passengers each year. Starting in 1862 and continuing for twelve years, Wohler designed testing machinery and conducted cyclic load tests on wheels, axles and rails made from many different materials which utilized different design details. He found that a convenient way of displaying the test results was to plot stress levels as a function of the numbers of cycles to failure.

This technical presentation is still used in modern machine design and is often referred to as an S-N curve or a Wohler curve. He determined that fatigue failures often occurred at a sharp radius and when the radius was increased, the failure did not occur until many additional loading cycles had been accumulated. His recommendations to designers included avoiding sudden changes in cross sections, avoiding notches and using as large a radius as possible at corners. However, poor design details were not always responsible for structural failures. Through his efforts, German industry developed better material production methods, especially in castings, which, when coupled with Wohler's detail design improvements, significantly reduced the number of accidents.

The work of Zeuner and Auchincloss yielded the systematic design approach for valve gears. Zeuner originated the Zeuner Diagram which is a graphical representation of valve motion referred to a circle. Both men were the authors of text books and numerous technical articles which were universally used in design.

During the course of railway development in Germany, many different types of locomotives evolved; some very simple and some complex. Each design had certain advantages and disadvantages; increased fuel efficiency could be obtained only at the price of complexity and additional development and maintenance costs.

Eventually, the more simple Prussian designs dominated those of the southern states however it is interesting to speculate what course the future of steam powered railways in Germany might have taken if the reliability of the Prussian locomotives had been integrated with the efficiency and elegance of the southern designs. Both philosophies contained weak and strong points; clever engineering might have been able to eliminate the weak and integrate the strong into an acceptable composite design which would have kept steam power alive much longer in Germany.

After the end of WW , both East and West Germany had separate railway systems which were organized along the lines of each country's political system and operated independently for about 45 years. The recent reunification of Germany has resulted in many changes in the railway system since both eastern and western lines, now known as the DEUTSCHE BAHN, must seriously compete with other modes of transportation for a share of the market.

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