Fourteen years after the official end of regular duties, the main line diagrams of the hugely popular Deutsche Bahn Class 103 electrics have ended. Ben Jones takes a nostalgic last run behind this iconic class and pays homage to these magnificent machines.
It is 04.59 on a chilly late-November morning. An early InterCity express to Munich slides out of the vast construction site that is currently Stuttgart’s main station. Heading the train is No. 103 245, an imposing Co-Co electric locomotive carrying the attractive red & ivory ‘Trans Europ Express’ livery of the 1960s/70s. It is one of several ‘103’ Museumloks owned by Deutsche Bahn, two of which are still passed for main line use.
Over the next two and half hours and 240km, the 42-year-old, 9,970hp electric will do exactly what it was built for – running at up to 200kph (125mph) between stops with an InterCity express, delivering early bird commuters to their officeuni works in the Bavarian capital.
Once the undoubted flagship of West Germany’s Deutsche Bundesbahn, the class lost all of its regular diagrammed work in December 2002, although a much-reduced fleet continued in reserve throughout 2003. Since then though, a small number of locomotives have kept the flag flying, much to the delight of enthusiasts in Germany and far beyond.
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