The DB Class 120 belongs to the locomotives with the axle formula Bo'Bo'. The axle formula Bo'Bo' uses two individually driven axles in two different frame bogies.

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The DB was developed by Deutsche Bahn AG in the 1970s. It has electronic converters and is the first production model of the three-phase locomotive to be an important milestone in the rail sector. The typical feature of the 120 series is the three-phase drive, which converts the alternating current via the traction converter into three-phase current and sets the asynchronous traction motors in motion. Based on this technology, the ICE drive was further developed in the 1980s. The first DB Class 120 went into operation in 1979 and tested first at Nuremberg. Further models of the series were delivered in the following months. Depending on the particular design, the locomotives were suitable for 160 or 200 km / h top speed. On the route Hanover – Hamburg a model could even reach 231 km / h in August 1980, which went down in history as a new record for three-phase locomotives. The characteristic design of the German Federal Railroad found its origin in the 120 series and was continued in the following series.

Details of DB Class 120


  • Manufacturer: BBC, Henschel, Krauss-Maffei, Krupp
  • Length: 19.200 mm
  • Numbering: various
  • Weight: 84,0 t
  • Years of Construction: 1979–1980 (120.0) 1987–1989 (120.1)
  • Top speed: 200 km/h
  • Retirement: from 2016
  • Drive: Hollow shaft gimbal single axle drive
  • Power system: 15 kV 16,7 Hz AC
  • Numbers: 65
  • Power: 5600 kW
  • Command: Indusi, Sifa, LZB

The DB Class 120 - retirement and whereabouts

It came to improvements of the technology and an intensive test phase of the DB Class 120. Between 1984 and 1985 sixty locomotives were ordered by the German Federal Railways. The delivery was to be carried out until 1988. In January 1987, the first series three-phase locomotive could be handed over. Meanwhile, the pre-series of the DB Class 120 are no longer in regular use at the Federal Railways. The locomotive 120 003 can be visited in the Railway Museum of Augsburg, while the 120 001 was destroyed by an accident and the 120 002 had to be scrapped. Comparable locomotives can be visited in other German museums, for example in Weimar and in Koblenz.