German Taurus

German Taurus

Posted: 15 February 2009


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Germany license.


The title is, of course, completely wrong: TAURUS™ is a registered trademark of the ÖBB (Austrian Federal Railways) for this locomotive class, and hence this locomotive is can only be called a Taurus when it’s in ÖBB service, which this one isn’t. Instead, the correct title for this locomotive is either class 182 or Siemens ES 64 U2. Which is why everybody calls it Taurus…

The story of this locomotive is about as complicated as it gets for modern electrics. DB’s first electric locomotive with three-phase AC traction was the class 120, which was designed as a universal locomotive, equally suited for freight trains and fast passenger service. For future models, however, DB abandoned this principle and instead bought a high-speed locomotive, the class 101, and a heavy freight locomotive, the class 152 (as well as a light freight and a commuter locomotive as well as multiple-systems versions, but those aren’t really interesting here right now). Technically, the 101 was an Adtranz (now Bombardier) locomotive and the 152 was from Siemens, which means they don’t have a lot in common, but capability-wise, they are rather similar: A 101 can do everything a 152 can, it just costs more since it has to have different train protection systems and more complicated trucks for the higher speeds.

Austria’s ÖBB went the other route, and got itself one locomotive for all, the class 1016 (single system) or 1116 (dual system) or 1216 (quad system) TAURUS. Technically it was based on the german 152, but suited for high-speed use, and with a very different body since the 152 was considered ugly or at least boring.

Now, DB wanted the 152 approved for service in Austria, which hadn’t been a problem for any german electric at this point, since standards are generally compatible. However, the 152 was refused homologation on the grounds that the trucks didn’t conform to a UIC standard - which was true, but the 152 was the first locomotive that got in trouble over it ever, and most people suspect that ÖBB just didn’t want DB competition. With the need for an austria-capable unit on short notice, DB cancelled the last twenty-five 152s, and instead let Siemens build twenty-five austrian 1116, which were obviously approved for Austria, as the new class 182. With a top speed of 230 kph, these are the fastest (the 101 is only allowed 220 kph) and arguably the most beautiful locomotives in the DB concern - and if they get lucky, they can haul extreme express freight trains with up to 140 kph. They are also dual-voltage capable, for service in Hungary, which is never ever used by DB. One could say these are the most bored locomotives DB has.

Recently, though, there is an ICE shortage, which means all sorts of fast passenger electrics are needed hauling passenger trains as 101s cascade upwards to replace the ICE trains, so the 182s finally can, occasionally, show all their money’s worth. Hence, we get 182 024 pulling this InterCity to Hamburg into Cologne central station.


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