Christtking's new pictures in another thread
have motivated me to continue also this thread.
After series E18 and E 19, series 120 will have to follow—the clearly underestimated first mass-produced type worldwide of an entirely new generation of electric and diesel locomotives and MU's. Whenever you hear something about a current (electronically controlled) three-phase-current vehicle (electric and diesel as well), be aware that series 120 is its "gandma".
In the 1970's Deutsche Bundesbahn (German Federal Railroad / DB / West Germany) planned to reorganize their locomotive fleet. They wanted to reduce the number of different locomotive types to make maintenance cheaper and easier and to improve the availability of suitable vehicles. So they were in need of an universal locomotive for almost all kinds of purposes. An universal locomotive will have to fulfil the very different requirements of very different purposes. That's not easy to realize. But the new three-phase-current technology was capable to manage this task.
This technology had been tested in some diesel locomotives (pure test units; initial series 202) since the early 1970's. In the late 1970's this technology had evolved into maturity phase. Now the time for a mass-produced locomotive had come.
The pre-production units
In 1979 an 1980, respectively, five pre-production units were delivered by Krauss-Maffei (Munich), Krupp (Essen) and Henschel (Kassel). The electrical equipment came from Brown, Boveri & Cie. (BBC / Mannheim). They received numbers 120 001 through 120 005. All of these units were individual, though looking almost identical. They intentionally contained various differences, so the experiences to be gathered would result in the best possible solution for mass-production.
120 005-4 even had a slightly different carbody. The horizontal kink in the front was lower. They wanted to test if the difference in air resistance causes significant differences in performance or consumption. But seemingly, it didn't.
These locomotives were excessively tested in regular service. Tests with a different gear ratio proved the running characteristics to be excellent and the performance to be sufficient. So the top speed could be raised higher than initially planned by a simple change of gears.
When the first locomotives of the production run emerged, these locomotives' tasks changed. They became test beds for new components. They mainly served for tests of newly developed components to be used in the new InterCityExpress trains (ICE) of first and second generations. Because also elements of ICE's propulsion had to be tested, one locomotive was equipped in a way that it was theoretically even as fast as the ICE itself and had an official permission for the same top speed for a while. But in reality, it never ran at those high speeds.
In 1989 these locomotives were reclassified. Now they were interpreted to be service vehicles and got the numbers 752 001 through 752 005. From the beginning on, there were several changes of the numbers. Some units got back their original numbers. Some were again reclassified into series 752. And finally in the mid of the first decade of 21st century, DB abandoned the idea of classifying locomotives like service vehicles. But the only remaining locomotive (752 004-2) did not get back its initial number, although.
When also ICE's were finished, these locomotives got new tasks. They were still test beds for some new components used in later locomotives, but now they also served in test trains to test other new rolling stock. They were also used for internal transports. And later MOW (measure trains and so on) was added to their tasks.
Between 2004 and 2011 all of these locomotives were withdrawn from service. And two of them (120 001-3 because of a heavy accident in 2004 and later also 120 002-1) have even been scrapped.
There were two record runs.
On August 13, 1980, 120 002-1 reached 231 km
(144 mph) which was world record for three-phase-current vehicles at that time.
On October 17, 1984, 120 001-3 outperformed that with a speed of 265 km
The production run
From 1987 until 1989 the regular production units were delivered. These 60 locomotives got the numbers 120 101 through 120 160. Their construction based on the experiences of the pre-production units. But they contained additional equipment. In contrast to the pre-production locomotives, they were pressure tight. So they could be used on the new high-speed lines. Additionally, they were equipped with additional brakes and with controls for double-traction and push-pull train service.
The second batch (numbers 120 137 through 120 160) additionally got a different gear ratio which raised their tractive effort at high speeds but lowered it at low speeds. This made these locomotives more appropriate for inter-city traffic and less appropriate for freight traffic.
When the locomotive fleet of DB was divided out to various subsidiaries in 1997, all locomotives became property of the inter-city branch of DB.
In 2005, two locomotives were sold to DB's subsidiary System Technology in Minden (Westfalia) to replace pre-production units in internal services. These locomotives (120 153-2 and 120 160-7) were renumbered into 120 501-2 and 120 502-0.
In late 2005, DB's subsidiary DB AutoZug (DB Auto Train) purchased some of these locomotives. It was planned to redesignate these units into series 121. But 121 113-5 was the only number which was really written on a locomotive. Because of a shortage of locomotives, DB's inter-city branch very soon annulled the contract and took these locomotives back—as series 120, of course.
In 2007 DB Regio—DB's commuter train subsidiary—bought five units of series 120 from the inter-city branch. These locomotives were equipped with the so-called "regional-traffic package". I don't know all of the components of this package. The most noticeable component is the destination indicators behind the windshields. But some extras in the controls also belong to the package. These locomotives got the new numbers 120 201 through 120 205. In late 2010 three further locomotives were sold and equipped that way and got the numbers 120 206 through 120 208.
Even more than the recent years, the close futur will be characterized by a continiously rising number of EMU's and a shrinking number of loco-hauled trains in inter-city traffic. Because of that and of the growing number of mechanical defects caused by overstraining series 120 in the 1990's, DB's inter-city subsidiary wants to get rid of their locos of this type. But they can not forgo them, yet.
Currently, only one unit of the production run (120 158-1) is out of service. It is used for spare parts cannibalizing. So none has been scrapped, yet.
The pre-production units were tested in regular passenger and freight service. They mainly operated schedules of series 103 and 151, but occasionally also of series 110, 111 and 141. In the late 1980's they changed to test-train services, internal transports and eventually also measure trains. In case of shortage of locomotives, they were also used in regular trains. During the 1990's this happened several times. But they could not be used in series 1201
's schedules because they were not pressure-tight.
was mainly used in inter-city services where they complemented series 103's fleet. Because they were pressure-tight, they were the only locomotives usable on the new high-speed lines for about ten years. Additionally, they pulled freight trains—mainly fast freight on high-speed lines. Because of heavy pressure problems in tunnels on the high-speed lines, DB very soon decided to use these lines for freight trains at night only. So they don't encounter high-speed trains which only operate at day time. This made series 120 pull inter-city trains at day time and freight at night.
After the partition of DB's locomotive fleet, the freight services became rare because the freight subsidiary had to pay for renting these locomotives for these services. Additionally, these locomotives have been outworn meanwhile and not very reliable any more.
In 2005 two locomotives (series 1205
) took over the tasks of abandoned pre-production units. They now pull test and measure trains. Occassionally, they also pull inter-city and charter trains, respectively, when there is no other locomotive available.
belongs to DB Regio. They use their first five units in fast commuter services (RegionalExpress / RE) between Hamburg and Rostock.
Their other three locomotives operate similar services between Aachen and Siegen via Cologne. But series 120's unreliability of the recent years necessitates the units from Aachen to be lent to Rostock again and again.
diagram of an unit of the production run of series 120
The pre-production units
- Length over buffers: 19.2 m (63 feet)
- Wheel arrangement: B0' B0'
- Top speed:
- Pre-production units:
- 120 001 … 120 004 initially: 160 km/h (99 mph)
- 120 005: 200 km/h (124 mph)
- later 120 001: 250 km/h (155 mph)
- later 120 002 … 120 005: 200 km/h (124 mph)
- during late 1980's 120 001: 280 km/h (174 mph) (theoretically)
- from early 1990's on all units: 200 km/h (124 mph)
- Production run: 200 km/h (124 mph)
- Permanent power: 4,400 kW (5,901 American horse powers)
- Maximum power: 5,600 kW (7,511 American horse powers)
- Dynamic braking: equipped; pre-production units without feeding back to the overhead wiring; performance unknown to me
- Pre-production units: 84 metric tons
- Production run: 83.2 metric tons
These locomotives were delivered in the contemporary TEE / IC livery in red and ivory. The arrangement of colors was slightly changed for 120 005-4 to match the different position of its front kink.
In the 1990's, also three of these locomotives got the orient red livery. Not even the traffic red color scheme stayed spared one of them.
Temporarily, some locomotives got additional inscriptions. But they didn't last for long.
The production run
These locomotives were the first ones which were delivered in the new orient red livery. But there were differences in the size of the white contrast areas—the so-called "Lätzchen" ("bibs")—on the fronts. Initially, they touched the edge of the windshields. Locomotives which were delivered later got a smaller bib. They had a gap between bib and windshield. Some older locomotives were recolored with the new smaller bib.
In 1998, the recoloring into the now omnipresent traffic red livery started. All locomotives—except for those with advertizing livery—are painted in this scheme, now. Last unit to receive it was 120 149-0 in late 2011 or early 2012.
In 2013, 120 502-0 was recolored. It got a yellow and grey livery to match the measure trains which it usually pulls.
The huge flat and uninterrupted side walls made these locomotives perfect billboards. So it was only a question of time when DB would come by the idea to hire out these rolling advertizing spaces. I don't have a complete overview. But these are the advertizing locomotives which I've found photos of:
In 2010, eleven locomotives of these series (and further ones of series 101) were pasted up with the slogan: "Nett hier. Aber waren Sie schon mal in Baden-Württemberg?" ("Nice here. But have you ever been to Baden-Württemberg?")
When the gap between the electric networks of Denmark and Germany was closed, 120 109-4 was the first electric locomotive to use this segment of the line. For this event, it got an appropriate label.
In 2012, 120 112-8 got an advertizing livery of Märklin. The slogan is: "Märklin – my world. Technik erfahren" (to experience / to drive technology [kind of pun])
The anniversary locomotive for "70 years of Micky Mouse", sponsored by Märklin in 1999, was 120 119-3.
120 129-2 was Märklin's Christmas loco of 1996.
Märklin sponsored an art locomotive in 1997. 120 139-1's slogan was: "Die Bahn verbindet." ("Rail connects.")
In 1997, 120 141-7 was decorated with advertizing for Dresdner Bank Investment Group.
120 151-6 was "ZDF express" in 1997. ZDF is a nationally owned German TV broadcaster. The slogan "Mit uns kommen Sie in Fahrt.", means: "With us you get into your stride."
"Das Original gibt's bei Märklin.", claims 120 159-9 ("The prototype is available at Märklin."). It was the anniversary locomotive "150 years of Märklin" in 2008.
In 2010, it was again 120 159-9 which was chosen for another advertizing livery. This time, it promoted the anniversary "175 years of railroads in Germany".
DB Systemtechnik (system technology) have used their locomotives (initially both of them) to advertize for themselves. The slogan is: "Bahntechnik mit Kompetenz" ("railroad technology with expertise")
It may sound curious that there are already preserved locomotives of a type which is as young as series 120. But finally, the pre-production units have been withdrawn from service. But they are too significant to scrap all of them. Three of them still exist, are owned by DB's subsidiary DB Museum and lent to various institutions.
And that's where you can find them:
- Augsburg Railroad Park (Bavaria):
120 003-9; temporarily 752 003-4
- DB Museum in Coblenz (Rhineland-Palatinate):
120 004-7—temporarily 752 004-2—is currently being repainted into its original colors.
- Railroad Museum Weimar (Thuringia):
120 005-4; temporarily 752 005-9
Beckmann has offered four versions of this locomotive type.
- In 2001 they offered 120 103-7 in delivery livery.
- 120 159-9 with the later version of the bib followed in 2003.
- 120 146-6 of 2006 shows the traffic red livery.
- A red / ivory representation of the pre-production units was offered in 2007 with 120 002-1.