31st August to 6th September, 1997
By John Lunn and Tom Chaffin
The 1997 continental visit had only attracted 13 bookings of UK members and wives and then, for various reasons, seven people had to cancel. As a result, I decided to cancel the formal arrangements that had been made on our behalf, with the remaining six members and wives agreeing to go to Berlin for a holiday. A letter was sent to Hartmut Schnorr of the Berlin S-
Just four of us met at Waterloo for the 17:27 to Brussels Midi, Bernard Salmon and his wife having travelled to Berlin the previous day. The journey to Brussels on Eurostar was uneventful and on time, giving us time for refreshment at Brussels before catching the 23:40 to Berlin Zoo.
Monday 1st September:
Arrival at Berlin Zoo was on time at 08:50 on a warm and sunny morning, where we were met by Hartmut Schnorr and Berlin S-
By the time we had finished breakfast our rooms were ready for occupation. After a short rest, wash and brush up, we departed for the Berlin S-
Prior to walking into the first shop we passed withdrawn S-
We then walked into the works building, following the various stages of repairs carried out on the S-
Walking into the stripping shop, we saw windows; seats and interior woodwork being removed from the cars before transfer to the next stage of the repair cycle. Because of the high levels of vandalism, which includes window scratching, some units are simply re-
After the stripping shop, the cars are moved to the main workshop area, where the bodies are lifted off the bogies; the two parts then taking different routes through the works.
The traction motors are removed from the bogies and are stripped for cleaning and repair. Wheelsets are taken to a separate shop where the wheel treads are turned or, if they have reached the end of their useful life, pressed off the axle and a new wheel pressed on. Older bogies can suffer from cracking and therefore require more attention.
Traction motors are taken to a separate shop where they are stripped and cleaned before re-
Coach bodies are taken into the body shop where all body and electrical repairs are carried out, including collision damage. All classes of unit have steel bodies except the aluminium-
After the cars are reunited with their bogies and reassembled, they are moved into the paint spray booth, which handles one car at a time. Paint now used has a service life of six to eight years and has improved resistance to abrasion caused by mechanical washing plants and chemicals used for graffiti removal.
Located adjacent to the paint shop is the trimming shop where seats from the pre-
After the units are reformed, they must undergo a 60KM fault-
Notes on the works:
Six classes of units are currently maintained in the works with new units covering up to 330,000 Km before shopping. The works celebrated its 70th birthday in 1997 and has recently gained ISO 9001 Quality Assurance. Before the reunification, over 2,000 staff were employed in the works. This has now dropped to 900 and will be reduced to 600 by the year 2003 as a result of replacement of all pre-
After completing the tour around the works, Herr Bttcher took us to his office for refreshments and to look at some photographs. There was also the opportunity to discuss the S-
Funding for the S-
After thanking Herr Bttcher for an interesting afternoon, we made our way out of the works with Herr Schnorr to Grunewald. We sat down for tea and a chat in a café on the edge of Grunewald, which is a popular area for horse riding. During the chat and with the aid of an electronic language translator, Herr Schnorr informed us that he kept a “grizzly parrot” at home. This turned out to be a grey parrot, the error being due to trouble with the translator!
Returning to Grouewald S-
The depot was given to the preservation group of Historische S-
Included amongst the units preserved are:
The three surviving trailers of the original Bernau units. These trailers were four-
An example of a high speed “Bankers Train”. Used to transport bankers and business people from Berlin to the Wansee and Potsdam. These units were capable of 140 kph, compared to 80 kph of standard S-
One of 16 “Peenemunde” units, built in 1942 for Deutschen Wehrmacht to transport workers to and from the rocket factory at Peenemunde during the World War 11. These units ran on a dedicated line and were powered by 1100V DC overhead electrification. After the war the units were transferred to the Soviet Union, but returned to Germany in 1952/3 and converted to run on the conventional 800v DC 3rd rail of the Berlin S-
Nearly all classes and sub-
It is noteworthy that the depot was fully signalled and electrified to enable running onto the S-
Following a refreshment break and chat, we returned to Berlin, Herr Schnorr having a train stopped at the nearby S-
Tuesday 2nd September:
An early start was made in order to arrive at the ADtranz plant in Hennigsdorf for 09:30. On the bus from the S-
Outside the plant main gate we met four of the Locomotive & Carriage Institute German members who would accompany us on the tour. We were then introduced to Herr Kohl, Project Manager and Frau Hasenegger, Press Officer who were to be our guides for the morning’s tour.
The plant was founded in 1911 by AEG as their first locomotive factory. It was destroyed by the allies in World War II and subsequently rebuilt. After the war the plant was taken over by the German Democratic Republic and employed up to 8 000 workers. After reunification, the plant was returned to private ownership and now employs 3 000. The factory was renovated in 1996 for DM600m (250m).
In the assembly hall was the unusual sight of trains, trains and metro cars all sharing the same shop floor.
The trams were a second series of three-
Alongside the trains were coaches for DB class VT611; tilting 2-
In complete contrast, opposite the VT611s were the final vehicles for the Guanghou Metro in Canton, China. Each 2-
Moving outside the assembly hall we passed several of the Guanghou units on the test track, some of which were receiving final attention. From here we moved into the test shed which housed high voltage electrical test equipment. Inside were ICE-
Finally we moved to another building that was being used for final commissioning and testing of three brand new class 145 Bo-
Our tour was concluded by refreshments al-
After the tour our German members and friends returned to their various places of work, leaving those more fortunate members with a free afternoon that we intended to spend on a steamboat ride, unfortunately in vain. We travelled on a DB Berlin Regional train to Potsdam, from where the steamboat operated. It was discovered that the next sailing was scheduled for 16:00, which gave us a long, leisurely lunch break. On returning to the berth, we were informed by a crew member that the 16:00 sailing was cancelled. Fortunately, the afternoon was recovered by taking a pleasant cruise on a waterbus to Wansee.
Wednesday 3rd September:
Wednesday morning saw a more civilised start at 09:00 from the hotel, travelling first to Charlottenburg S-
The Kleistpark control room, as well as housing the signalling control workstations for line U7, also contains the Betriebsleitstelle U-
The signalling system is similar to that employed by London Underground in that the signals are ‘distant’ and ‘stop’; however, distant signals are only provided where there is less than 200m sighting distance to the stop signal.
Twelve work stations are located in the control room, three of which are used by U7 controllers. A fourth desk, in the centre, is occupied by the “Leader of line U 7”, who makes strategic decisions and issues instructions to the line controllers, especially at times of disruption. The remaining desks are either unoccupied or used by the U-
Each line controller works a seven-
An Arcatel “Command 900” control system is used on line U7, with the controllers’ interface hardware and software being produced by Seimens. Each workstation is equipped with three monitors. Two show, at the top of the screen, a track diagram of the section controlled by that workstation, whilst the bottom half shows an overview of the entire line, including crossovers and stations. The third shows the interlocking. On each track diagram, routes not set are shown in grey, routes set are indicated in yellow and occupied sections are displayed in red. Above each occupied section, the train ID is shown in one of three colours, depending on the train’s timekeeping. Green -
Train ID is by a five-
Nine remote interlockings are operated from the control room. Each is driven by three computers. Interlocking decisions are made by two active computers; the other computer, on standby, is consulted in the event of a disagreement between the other two. The controller’s third monitor can be used to obtain more detail about route interlocking during times of problems. Additionally, each remote interlocking can be locally controlled from a panel in an emergency.
Depot internal movements are locally controlled and electronic axle counters are used instead of track circuits.
At each station, ‘Solari’ flap platform indicators are locally controlled. An automatic centrally controlled system is due for installation in 1999. Newly introduced ‘flying staff’ travel from station to station at times of disruption to give assistance to passengers as well as providing first-
Total train KM are recorded, both for maintenance and payment of subsidy from the city authority. If insufficient train KM are run, the subsidy is reduced.
At the end of the visit, a Locomotive & Carriage Institution certificate was presented in appreciation of the time and assistance offered to the Institution by the BVG management and staff.
The visit concluded just after midday, giving the afternoon free to indulge in sightseeing.
Thursday 4th September:
A very early start was made in order to catch the 07:13 from Berlin Lichtenberg to Spremberg in the Lusatia area of Saxony to visit LAUBAG -
LAUBAG was formed in 1990 from the DDR (East German) State Mining Company. The privatisation of the former state owned mines was made to make the mining of lignite profitable. It is now mined in four areas of Germany. LAUBAG currently mine in three areas in Lusatia, which are: JnschwaldelCottbus, Welzow-
The lignite reserves in Lusatia amount to 13 billion tonnes (12.8 billion tons), but only 2.4 billion tonnes have been approved for mining by the Saxony Government. Seventeen mines were in operation until 1989, but only five are now operational due to the drop in demand. It is envisaged that the remaining mines will be operated for the next forty years. Fifty million tonnes are mined annually, the majority of which is consumed by local power stations, due to the high moisture content of the coal. If it is transported over long distances, the moisture content is reduced, degrading quality.
The LAUBAG railway system covers 384km (240miIes) of track, 769 points, 56 level crossings and 137 bridges. It is electrified throughout at 2,400V DC. The railway is divided into three regions, Cottbus, Welzow and Boxberg; each with its own manager. The motive power and rolling stock comprise 81 electric locomotives, a small number of diesel locomotives, 592 wagons (84-
As well as the transportation of coal, ash and gypsum is transported from the power plants in special wagons. Clay is also transported to a local plant for brick and bottle making. As well as internal wagons, DBAG wagons are used to convey limestone to the power plants as well as gypsum and coal for onward passage over the DBAG network.
All loaded coal and clay wagons are weighed on scales whilst on the move, at 5 to 12KPH. Scales are also used in winter to detect frozen coal. Due to the high moisture content, the coal can easily freeze, making it difficult to unload. It is defrosted by either special hot air jets, which blow the coal from the wagons, or by passing the train through a hot air tunnel. A complete train of 16 wagons is defrosted over two to three hours at temperatures of 70 to 80C (158 to 176F). Despite all this, problems still occur discharging frozen coal.
As well as using coal from the LAUBAG mines, coal is also brought in from mines in the Berlin Region and Southern Germany. Power plants do not hold stockpiles, with coal being delivered by the trains ‘just in time’ according to a monthly programme, which is adjusted on a weekly or daily basis as required.
Ash and gypsum are stored in silos by the power plants and removed regularly. If the silos are not emptied, the power plant must be shut down. Problems occurred last winter as high coal demand produced too much ash. Whilst coal consumption should provide a guide on the amount of ash produced, sometimes this does not meet predictions, causing difficulties.
Our visit started with the “Zentrule Betriebrleitung des ZEB” or Central Railway Operating Building, located at Schwarze Pumpe. On the top floor of this two story purpose-
The back of the control room is dominated by a colour LCD video wall, showing a live diagrammatic display of the whole network, similar to that seen in Gotenburgh the previous year. Each area of the network is controlled by a workstation, which is manned by two controllers. All controllers previously worked in the old manual signal boxes. Each workstation is equipped with three monitors showing a close-
An operating supervisor in the control room is able to interrogate the IECC computer and see the position of any train on the network. He is also able to see displays of the capacity of the coal bunkers at all of the power plants. His task is to organise train delivery to meet the demand of each power plant. On-
Downstairs, we visited the IECC simulator, which is used to train operators. Different train running scenarios can be run on the simulator, including accidents and crashes. Twenty days are required to train an operator from a manual signalbox to use the IECC. The training is similar to that undertaken by DBAG.
All locomotive and wagon maintenance is carried out in the Central Workshop. The building was erected in 1959 by the GDR as a gasification and power plant and was converted to its present role after reunification. Work carried out includes both repairs to railway equipment and to some general mining machinery, such as bulldozers, conveyor belts, gears and transformers. Wagon washing is also carried out in an adjacent building. Over one hundred staff are employed in the workshops. An internal standard gauge railway is used for movement of materials around the works.
Electric and diesel locomotives are maintained in separate shops. The diesel locomotives are of similar design to shunting locomotives used by DBAG. The electric locomotives are all of the same class and were built in 1960 in Hennigsdorf, but have been substantially modified by LAUBAG over the years with improvements to lubrication, safety systems and compressors. The locomotives are Co-
Locomotives are maintained to a km based maintenance regime:
A special shed is used for high-
After a fine lunch, we were taken by car to Weltow-
As the mine progresses, some villages are relocated. The present mine has coal reserves for 100 years, but will be closed in 2032, due to state-
Once coal production ceases, the land is generally returned to its original condition. The last stage of our tour was to a restored area, which had originally been of a flat and sandy nature. The local people requested a hill to add interest to the landscape and this was produced by filling in an area of 400ha (988 acres) 30m (33yards) lower than original height. Ground water has to be controlled in these restored areas as during mining water was pumped away, so the restored area is dry. This does not affect growth, but if the water is allowed to rise, subsidence could result. The water is sold for industrial and drinking use.
After thanking our guides for a very interesting visit, we returned to Berlin.
Friday 5th September:
Friday was a free day and the opportunity was taken to see the sights of Berlin, which is presently seeing much reconstruction in the former Eastern Sector. Some members took the opportunity to ride on a steamboat on the River Spree.
In the evening, at the invitation of Hartmut Schnorr, we attended a very pleasant social evening in the pub Alt Nurnburg, located in the Europa Centre close to Berlin Zoologischer Garten.
Saturday 6th September:
On Saturday we transferred to Dresden, where we met our members Katrin and Rainer, and took a journey on the DBAG meter-
Our hotel was located opposite the DBAG locomotive depot and workshops in Dresden. From our bedrooms we could observe some old stock, which included a cannibalised Class 41 2-
On Sunday morning, some of the group travelled to Prague far a further week’s holiday.
If you have enjoyed reading this article, you may also be interested in the following related articles:
The Institution’s previous visit to Germany in 1994
History of the Berlin S-