Number of German ‘Trabbis’ decreasing

GERMAN Railways (DB) once had 647 Class 143 electric locos, built in the former East Germany at LEW Hennigsdorf between 1984 and 1990 for East German Railways (Deutsche Reichsbahn), and originally numbered as ‘243s’.

DB Regio No. 143628 at Nürnberg Hbf with Altdorf to Roth S2 service on December 13, 2016. These and some short-term work between Dortmund and Bochum (Rhein-Ruhr route S1) are the only DB Regio services left operated with x-Wagen single deck push-pull S-Bahn trains. KEITH FENDER

By early 2016, fewer than 100 remained in passenger use with DB Regio, replaced all over Germany by modern EMUs, although a similar number is currently in use with freight operator DB Cargo and some of its subsidiaries.

The locos are known to some enthusiasts (German and British) as ‘Trabbis’ after the famous East German car the Trabant (built in Zwickau, Saxony – now a VW car plant). The loco’s 120kph top speed is these days an operating constraint as modern trains are capable of 140/160kph and most of the electrified network is operated at these speeds (back in East German days 120kph was the maximum speed on almost all main lines so the DR Class 243 were the most modern and fastest locos available).

DB Regio Class 143 operation is now concentrated on five areas.

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