DB Class 103 - The electric loco for fast passenger traffic

DB Class 103 - the world's most powerful single-unit locomotive

The DB Class 103 was developed in connection with the reconstruction of the railway network severely damaged in the Second World War and the beginning electrification of the rail network in the former Federal Republic. In order to be able to increase the speed of the trains up to 160 km / h and more, developments, such as the electric locomotive Class 103, had become necessary. The design of the class 103 was submitted in the 1960s by Krupp and AEG. It included a 19 t vehicle of 19,500 mm in length, powered by 6 traction motors and capable of reaching top speeds of 200 km / h.

The first DB Class 103 was handed over to the German Federal Railroad in 1965 in Kassel. From the pre-series, a total of 4, of the main series 145 copies were completed and handed over. The Class 103 proved to be a heavy 6-axle locomotive in the train traffic of the German Federal Railroad and enjoyed for many years, in addition to the diesel locomotive class V 200, the reputation of a flagship of the German Federal Railroad. To date, the DB Class 103 is considered the world’s most powerful one-piece locomotive and the most powerful vehicle ever used in German line operations.

Details of DB Class 103

Manufacturer mech. part:Henschel-Werke, Krauss-Maffei, Krupp
Manufacturer electr. part:AEG, BBC, Siemens
Length: 19,500 mm,
later 20,200 mm
(From 103 216,
subsequently also 103 173)
Numbering: various
Weight: 114.0 t
Years of construction: 1970-1974
Retirement: 1997-2003,
2020 (103 245)
Top speed: 200 km/h
At times with modified
wheelset gearboxes:

103 118: 265km/h
103 003 and 103 222: 280 km/h
Number: 145
Power: 7440 kW
Power system: 15 kV 16 2/3 Hz
Traction motors: 6
Propulsion: Henschel branch drive (2x pre-series)
SSW rubber ring gimbal drive (series)
Tractive force: 312 kN
Brake: Air brake KE-GPR
Electric brake
Train protection: PZB 90, Sifa, LZB
Axle formula: Co'Co'
Interesting facts
The electric locomotive DB Class 103 belongs to the construction type with the axle formula Co'Co'. With the axle formula Co'Co', three individually driven axles are installed in each of two different frame bogies.

More interesting facts

The DB Class 103 - Termination and whereabouts

From 1997, the Deutsche Bahn AG successively considered 103 of the in-service specimens of the series as worn out and replaced them with vehicles of the new series 101. In 2003, finally, the decommissioning of all remaining vehicles of the series was ordered. To date, however, 4 locomotives of the DB Class 103 are kept ready for operation as so-called emergency reserve in order to be able to move special trains, overpasses or flat trains.

These reserve vehicles carry the codes 103 113-7, 103 235-8, 103 226-6 and 103 245-7. They are located at different locations in the Federal territory. Another 12 copies have been shut down and preserved in a museum state. The vehicles had a service mass of up to 114 t.