Baureihe (Class) 103, once 'Queen of the German Rails', was Deutsche Bundesbahn's top-of-the-line electrical locomotive from 1970 through 1989, when the 120 took over as the new flagship, though some would say the 103 remains queen till the present day -- it is probably the most cherished cult object of German railway aficionados and DB employees alike. Train drivers go as far as announcing the fact that the "legendary 103" is driving their traing to their passengers as something special.

Heavy, powerful and six-axled, with 1960s-style streamlined looks, the 103 was the first loco designed to do 200 km/h on schedule. It was thus to be the backbone of DB's then-new InterCity service in the 1970s. 103 was designed before 1965 and built by the usual bunch of German rolling-stock and electrics companies, i.e. Krauss-Maffei, Henschel, Krupp, Siemens, AEG and BBC, from 1970 through 1974. 145 were built; the last 103s have been retired from scheduled service with Deutsche Bahn in 2002/2003, although some seem to be reactivated or at least enjoy Elvis-like reappearances. Flame wars about whether the 101 is really better than the 103 are common among railway fans, and inevitably they reach the touchy question whether three-axle bogies are really as desastrous for the rails as they're made out to be. (Frankly I think people wasting their time on that kind of argument should just get a life and discuss more important things such as Emacs vs. vi.)

Technical fact sheet:

  • Concept: Co'Co' layout (six axles in two bogies), all axles driven; conventional two-phase AC motors controlled by a 39-level thyristor switch
  • Power: 10400 kW technically possible, maximum limited to 9000 kW; 7780 kW for one hour at 181 km/h; 7440 kW sustained at 191 km/h; -9800 kW top electric braking power, -4800 kW sustained braking power
  • Traction: 312 kN maximum, 154 kN for one hour, 140 kN sustained
  • Top speed: 200 km/h
  • Total weight: 116 tonnes (19.3 tonnes per axle)
  • Length: 19.5 or 20.2 m, depending on the date built
  • Width: 3.09 m
  • Height over rail: 4.49 m
  • Distance between bogies: 9.6 m
  • Distance between axles in bogie: 2x 2.25 m
  • Diameter of driven wheels: 1.25 m

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