In the late 1950s, Deutsche Bundesbahn's first modern post-war road diesel, the 'V200' (the last ones quit service in 1984) enjoyed enormous success and the administration had to decide whether to continue maintaining old steam locos or acquire a new series of modern, medium diesel locomotives. The latter was done; the design, first called 'V160', was later to become Deutsche Bahn's Baureihe (Class) 216. It featured a state-of-the-art diesel-hydraulic power train, but had a steam boiler for train heating as electrically heated passenger cars were only slowly rotating into service.

Built beginning in 1960 by Krupp, later by Henschel, KHD, Krauss-Maffei and MaK, powered by Maybach or MAN motors, at least 224 units were built. Not many are still in service; as they cannot power any modern passenger trains, they mainly do freight work with DB Cargo.

Technical fact sheet:

  • Concept: B'B' layout (four axles in two bogies), both bogies driven by a single diesel engine by articulated shafts from a central fluid transmission; a mechanical intermediate gearbox to select either a high-traction or a high-speed gear can only be shifted when standing still
  • Power: 1,400 kW
  • Traction: 235 kN in high-traction gear, 167 kN in high-speed gear
  • Top speed: 120 km/h in high-speed gear, 80 km/h in high-traction gear
  • Total weight: 80 tonnes (20 tonnes per axle); some early models: 74 tonnes (18.5 tonnes per axle)
  • Length: 16 m
  • Boiler water tank volume: 3 m3

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