DB Class 420

Shall we continue with the retro theme of the recent weeks? The DB Class 420 EMU screamed 1970s the very first time I laid eyes on it (not in a bad way). It's not bad looking by any means. In fact, it is actually refreshing to see something relatively old among all the shiny modern passenger equipment around me in the NRW.

By Manfred Kopka - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Like the Class 111 locomotive featured last week, the Class 420 was developed by the Deutsche Bundesbahn for the S-Bahn service. It, however, was assigned to the S-Bahn networks of Munich, Stuttgart, and Frankfurt am Main instead. Each trainset consists of 3 cars. As usual, they can doubled up and work in multiple units. Like older subway cars, these mass-transit mainline trainsets do not have through gangways between cars. If you were unlucky, you'd be stuck in a very packed car, while the next one could be nearly empty.

By Michael Bienick - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

By Rolf Heinrich, Köln, CC BY 3.0, Link


DB Class 111

Beautifully made videos by TheKnaeggebrot in stunning Southern Bavaria

Aha, it's that time of the week, and I haven't forgotten about this blog this time around (which is a little sad, really). Let me bring your attention to the DB Class 111, another locomotive from the Deutsche Bundesbahn days. It seems to be making a comeback? (Not sure if that's really the case, but there seems to be more and more of them on RegionalExpress trains around the area I live in, and even on some S-Bahn trains).

By Lars Steffens - Flickr: Baureihe 111, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Built from the mid-70s, throughout to the mid-80s, the Class 111 was originally designed for regional trains and the then new S-Bahn Rhein-Ruhr. Capability for InterCity service was added in the early 1980s, with an increase of maximum permissible speed from 93 to 100 mph. Like many locomotives of the same era, the Class 111 was built by a consortium of builders, consisting of Krauss-Maffei, Henschel, Krupp, Siemens, AEG, an…

DB Class 120

The Class 120 is an inconspicuous looking locomotive (in today's standard, anyway). It occasionally, casually drifts across the rails right in front of my eyes, almost blending into the background, hardly noticeable at all. I would've probably have never thought much of it, until now.

The amount of information the English Wikipedia page has provided is a bit of a pity. Luckily, though, it is 2017, and there's Google Translate (well, hopefully at least one version of me in some alternate universe is actually learning German). There is no way this post can contain (nor should it) all the wealth of information found on the locomotive's German Wikipedia page. Here, I'll just show off a few what I think are highlights.

Von Benedikt Dohmen (User:Benedictus), Archiv-Nr. 63/28 - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

So beneath the underwhelming looks of the Class 120 is one of the first production three-phase AC locomotives equipped with regenerative braking. It was developed …

AVE Class 100

I slacked off last week again, didn’t I. Anyhow, let’s continue with the Paella theme and check out the AVE Class 100. As you may recall, AVE stands for Alta Velocidad Española, the service name used by the Spanish national passenger operator, Renfe, on its high-speed trains.

A Class 100 on the Madrid to Barcelona high-speed line

The story here sounds similar to some of the other countries that got into the high-speed rail business by importing in the later parts of the 20th century. The Class 100, like the first KTX (Korea Train eXpress), are derived from the iconic TGV Atlantique. Like the KTX, the styling of the AVE Class 100 has been modified slightly, resulting in a more rounded nose. Nonetheless, it does not require any effort to spot the family resemblance.

By SeeSchloss - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

The trains went into service in 1992, after the first standard gauge high-speed line was completed in Spain from Madrid to Seville (it was almost going to be Iberian gauge, like t…

AVE Class 103

A very well made video by YouTube user Mikhail@Novgorod showing various types equipment on the Córdoba to Málaga High-Speed Line

I have already written about some of the Siemens Velaro family of high-speed trains in earlier posts, but I wanted to dedicate this one to the Velaro E (for España), or more commonly known as the AVE (Alta Velocidad Española or Spanish High Speed) Class 103.

A Class 103 towards Barcelona on the outskirts of Madrid

On the outside, the Velaro E looks almost identical to the ICE 3, which is a product jointly developed by a number of companies in Germany. However, due to licensing issues, Siemens re-developed components on the ICE 3 it did not make, thus completing the Velaro platform of high-speed trains. The Velaro E also received an upgrade in the traction department, in order to cope with the demand for higher acceleration and maximum speed by Renfe (the Spanish national railway company). As a result, the AVE Class 103 is authorized for service at 350 km/h …

Renfe Class 446 and 447

I've had the fortune to go on yet another getaway to the not-so-distant country of Spain, where conventional lines use the Iberian gauge of 5' 5-21/32''. Although it was devoid of any long-distance train trips, I still had the pleasure of experiencing the suburban Cercanías service in Madrid.

The Class 446, De Hugh Llewelyn - 180 Uploaded by Oxyman, CC BY-SA 2.0, Enlace

The Renfe Series 446 and 447 make up a portion the current Cercanías fleet. Since they look almost identical from the outside, I'm lumping them together in this post. In reality, though, the two series differ considerably mechanically.

The Class 447, De Jordi Verdugo - 447 doble en Vilajuïga, CC BY-SA 2.0, Enlace

In a nutshell, the Series 447 is lighter and faster. They have more modern electric motors that help them accelerate more rapidly (more details on Class 446 here and Class 447 here).
The two series are compatible in multiple-unit, if necessary, and up to 4 sets can be coupled together at a…

Tarka Line

I went hiking in England in the past week. Although most of my intercity travel was made by coach bus (for budgetary and logistical reasons), being who I am, I still had to slip a train ride in there somewhere, didn't I.

By Geof Sheppard - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

What could be a more suitable way to end my hike than a train ride on the quaint and picturesque single track Tarka Line from Barnstaple to Exeter? In the gentle green hills of Devon, DMUs on this line traverse a scenic 40 miles along the Rivers Creedy, Yeo, and Taw.

The Tarka Line got its name from Tarka the Otter, a local animal hero from a novel by the same name. It is part of what used to be the North Devon Railway between Bideford and Exeter. Today, the line terminates in Barnstaple.

Barnstaple Station today consists of a sole platform and track. By Geni at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Barnstaple as a Junction Station in yesteryear. By Ben Brooksbank, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Operated by the Gre…