German Prototype Eras?

German Prototype Eras?

Postby areibel » Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:31 pm

Can anyone explain the different Eras or Epochs of the German railroads? I see a lot that look like the same locomotive in a different paint, are there actual cut off dates for each Epoch?
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Re: German Prototype Eras?

Postby railtwister » Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:03 pm

Hi areibel,

I recently ran across this somewhere on the web (perhaps at Tillig's site):

Epoch I: up until 1920
Epoch II: Up until 1950
Epoch III: Up until 1970
Epoch IV: Up until 1990
Epoch V: Up until 2007

I don't know if everything after 2007 is actually Epoch VI, or if the list was simply compiled in 2007. Most of the Epochs are a span of 20 years, which could mean Epoch VI doesn't actually start until 2010, but in any event, I guess we're in Epoch VI now. Like here, there are bound to be elements of the European prototypes that span more than one Epoch, and likely wore different paint schemes during that time.

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Re: German Prototype Eras?

Postby Marquette » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:49 am

Well, it's a little more complex, the reasoning anyways.

Epoch I is from the start of railways in Germany, the era of each Principality/Kingdom/whatever having its own railway company, until they were unified into a single German Imperial Railway.

Epoch II is from the unification of the provincial railways into the Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft in 1920, through WW2 until the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic.

Epoch III starts in 1950 after the establishment of the German Federal Railways (Deutsche Bundesbahn) and the Deutsche Reichsbahn in the GDR - the reason the communist government kept the "German Imperial Railway" name is pragmatic: at the terms set out at the end of the war, the DR was specified as the operator of rail transport in the entirety of Berlin... by keeping the name, they ensured that they would operate the trains even in West Berlin... Anyways, Epoch III is subdivided into IIIa and IIIb, the latter starting when they introduced the computerised numbering system for equipment.

Epoch IV is the InterCity era, 1970 until reunification

Epoch V is the period from reunification until privatisation of Deutsche Bahn (as I understand it)

Epoch VI is the current era since the privatisation and the spun-off regional private railways.

Though in catalogues they use these era-indicators for railways of other countries, really they apply ONLY to Germany, since they're specifically tailored to German railway history. For example, for Hungary, era I would be from the start of railways to the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, era II would be something 1918-1920 until 1948, when the People's Republic was established, era III would be from then until the late 1970s when mainline steam was phased out, era IV would be the steamless period until the fall of communism in 1989/90, era V would be from then to the introduction of computerised locomotive-class numbering... around 2006 or so? (Whenever the first Taurus were delivered). Yugoslavia would be another good example, or France, of why the German era-system really should only be used for German models... - The SP in 1:120 - my attempt at a blog
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Re: German Prototype Eras?

Postby JBr » Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:05 am

Actually, how the epochs/eras are divided is defined by a MOROP norm. General information about eras is defined in the norm NEM 800 and it doesn't apply to any country in particular. Then there are national norms, tailored for each European country. For example NEM 805 CZ for the Czech Republic, NEM 806 D for Germany, NEM 813 H for Hungary etc. The more interesting fact is that not only there are eras (epochs), but also periods as fractions of an era. So the layout can be set in time even more precisely.

All the norms can be found at Unfortunately they are in German only as the English version of the website contains only the basic norms for track clearances, wheels etc.
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Re: German Prototype Eras?

Postby The Fish » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:01 am

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Re: German Prototype Eras?

Postby Arseny » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:57 am

Marquette and railtwister, you are right.
A little clarification: the West Germany's DB and GDR's DR started in 1949, not 1950. So the 3rd era started in 1949.

The DRG used "DR" logo too, since 1943 (!)

Although the Germany united in 1990, the integration of railways lasted until 1994.
So there was a "transition period" 1990-1994, when you could see the wagons and locomotives marked as DR and as DB at the same time in the same place.

The difference betweed 3 and 4 eras is the numeration scheme of wagons and locomotives, not only InterCity :)

Few words about Russia: although the eras for Russia are not standartized yet, there was some work to develop the eras standart for Russia too.
It's funny that the eras are almost the same as German.
Era I (Ia, Ib, Ic) - 1837-1920: tsarist Russia and Civil War.
Era II - 1920-1945: RSFSR (Russian Socialist Federation), pre-war USSR and World War II
Era III - 1946-1966 (or maybe 1970?) - after-war USSR.
Era IV (4a, 4b, 4c) - 1966-1991: new numeration systems.
Era V - 1991-...: Modern Russia, new symbolics. RZhD

Sometimes ago the JATT company suggested Era VI: 1994-...
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Re: German Prototype Eras?

Postby Marquette » Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:38 pm

Arseny wrote:The difference betweed 3 and 4 eras is the numeration scheme of wagons and locomotives, not only InterCity :)

I thought this was IIIa and IIIb - I know I've seen models with the computer-numbers, marked era III (and IIIb - I especially have the big D-D diesel in mind V188/BR 288)... - The SP in 1:120 - my attempt at a blog
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Re: German Prototype Eras?

Postby Dibbedabb » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:01 pm

Hi everyone!

Arseny was right. Epoch IV started with renumbering the entire rolling stock to computer readable numbers and new class names (like: Ommu became Es). Since that didn't happen during one single day, different sources set the start of Epoch IV to different dates. Officially the renumbering started in 1968.
Epoch VI is more the new renumbering of rolling stock than the new private rail operators. They developed since the late 90s. The locomotives received new numbers to make them uniquely identifyable all through europe. This one number will - like the factory number - always stick to the locomotive. For example, 185 244 will always be 91 80 6185 244-1, no matter who owns it at the moment or where it is sold to. The owner is set by the country code (like on cars) and an owner token, collected in the Vehicle Keeper Marking Register.
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Re: German Prototype Eras?

Postby Christtking » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:56 pm

So the new numbering system of era VI is kind of going back and stealing or using the idea previously used on the passenger cars during era IV, in other words making it more complicated, I think they should have leave it the way it was.

Re: German Prototype Eras?

Postby Dibbedabb » Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:33 am

Well, I can understand the idea why they did this. Even after selling a locomotive it is still identifiable.

Besides that every operator can still decide if he calls his loco "Peter" or "22" or whatever.
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