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Large Diesel Railcars[Inhalt]
Alstom Coradia A TER
DB AG class 641 and French State Railway X 73500 and X 73900
Germany | 1999 | 371 produced
SNCF X 73520 of TER Alsace in March 2009 in Mulhouse
SNCF X 73520 of TER Alsace in March 2009 in Mulhouse
Hugh Llewelyn

Shortly before the turn of the millennium, Deutsche Bahn and SNCF started a cooperation to develop a modern, single car diesel multiple unit. Partner companies were the French De Dietrich Ferroviaire and German Linke-Hofmann-Busch, both of which now belong to the French Alstom group. Thus, the resulting vehicle was subsequently added to the Alstrom Coradia family, while the “TER” stands for “Transport express régional”, which is used in France for fast regional trains. While in France they are also known by the nicknames „cucumber”, “suppository” and “sausage” because of their shape, in both countries they are usually called “whale” or “blue whale”.

The special thing about the vehicles is that the engines are located at both ends in front of the bogies in the floor and result in a massive appearance. The power is transmitted to the inner axle of the adjacent bogie via a Voith hydrodynamic transmission. This structure allows for a floor height of 55 cm in the middle part, which is positive when used at rural stations without a high platform.

The vehicles were built in both countries of origin, 40 of them in Germany. These are operated by DB Regio as class 641 and are primarily used on non-electrified branch lines. By far the most common variant is the X 73500 of the SNCF, which has a top speed of 140 km/h and of which 312 examples were built. There are also 19 X 73900s for cross-border traffic to the Saarland, which can be used in multiple traction with the German vehicles, and six units from the 2100 series of the Luxembourg CFL.

DB 641 031 in August 2016 in Hof
DB 641 031 in August 2016 in Hof
Simon Scharfenberger

In France, the vehicles repeatedly make negative headlines because they have been involved in accidents at level crossings with barriers failing to close and in incidents when shunting. This was attributed to the fact that the vehicles often do not trigger track circuits for switching barriers or signals because they either have too few axles or, due to their low weight, do not sufficiently displace dirt on the tracks and thus prevent contact closure. As a countermeasure, they are often used in multiple, even if the number of passengers does not require this.

VariantBR 641, X 73900X 73500
General
Built1999-2004
ManufacturerAlstom LHB, Alstom DDF
Axle config1A-A1 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Seats80
Dimensions and Weights
Length92 ft 3 5/16 in
Wheelbase64 ft 3 5/8 in
Fixed wheelbase6 ft 10 11/16 in
Empty weight107,365 lbs
Power
Power sourcediesel-hydraulic
Top speed75 mph87 mph
EngineMAN D 2866
Engine type2x 6-cyl. diese1
Engine output689 hp (514 kW)
Power Plant
Boiler
Calculated Values
DMU
local
Alstom Coradia
last changed: 02/2022
Belgian Railway Type 608
Belgium | 1939 | 6 produced
Type 608 on an old post card
Type 608 on an old post card

The Type 608 formed a series of six railcars with internal-combustion engines that were delivered by Forges Usines et Fonderies d'Haine-Saint-Pierre shortly before the Second World War. These vehicles were streamlined at both ends, intended for fast traffic without a trailer cars. They were built under license by Ganz in Budapest and offered ten seats in second class and 54 in third class. Both axles of each bogie were driven by an 500 hp eight-cylinder diesel engine via mechanical transmission

The six railcars were preceded by a Type 607 prototype that had been delivered in 1936. The Type 608 series vehicles were ordered together with the two-car type 553 railcars and delivered in 1939. They achieved a speed of up to 126 km/h in test drives, but were limited to 85 km/h in service. In contrast to other Belgian railcars, some of them survived the Second World War. It is thanks to this fact that the 608.05 can be visited in the railway museum in Treignes after a refurbishment and is therefore one of only two pre-war Belgian railcars that are still preserved today.

General
Built1939
ManufacturerForges Usines et Fonderies d'Haine-Saint-Pierre
Axle configB-2 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Dimensions and Weights
Length76 ft 9 1/4 in
Service weight122,136 lbs
Power
Power sourcediesel-mechanic
Top speed53 mph
EngineCarels
Engine type8-cyl. diesel
Engine output496 hp (370 kW)
Power Plant
Boiler
Calculated Values
DMU
regional
last changed: 01/2022
Belgian Railway types 602 and 603
later MW 42 to 45
Belgium | 1954 | 36 produced
Preserved vehicle No. 4333 in 2009 in Spontin
Preserved vehicle No. 4333 in 2009 in Spontin
Noben k

In order to replace the passenger transport capacity on branch lines that was lost during the Second World War, the Belgian state railways procured four-axle diesel railcars of the types 602 and 603 from 1954. A diesel engine from Carels with an output of 400 hp was used as the power plant. The vehicles stood on two bogies, only one of which was driven on the inner axle. This limited their field of application to routes in the lowlands. The differences between the two series were limited to the design of the interior. While the Type 602 also had a first-class compartment and a luggage compartment, the Type 603 only had second-class seats.

The order included six Type 602s and 30 Type 603s. The former served as a feeder to Brussels Airport, while the others served on secondary routes. In addition to the motor cars, trailers were also ordered, which were designated as Type 732 and 734 and had two or four axles.

Types 602 and 603 were later renamed MW 42 and MW 43. After the feeder to Brussels Airport was electrified, the MW 42 were converted into MW 43. As vehicles got older, some vehicles were fitted with General Motors two-stroke diesel engines. This resulted in the MW 44 on the one hand, which was given an engine consisting of two combined four-cylinders and still only driving one axle. In addition, the MW 45 was created, which received two individual six-cylinder engines, each with 165 hp, each driving one axle of each bogie. Other vehicles were converted into railway service vehicles in the 1980s. The last remotorized vehicles were in service until 2002 and were then replaced by the MW 41.

VariantMW 42 and 43MW 44MW 45
General
Built1954-1965
ManufacturerAteliers Germain, Ateliers Métallurgiques de Nivelles
Axle config1A-2 1A-A1 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Seats7999
Dimensions and Weights
Length78 ft 1 in41 ft 11 15/16 in
Fixed wheelbase11 ft 5 13/16 in
Service weight116,183 lbs119,490 lbs
Power
Power sourcediesel-hydraulic
Top speed56 mph
EngineCarelsGM Twin 6-71GM 6V 71N
Engine type6-cyl. dieselU12 diesel2x 6-cyl. diese1
Engine output394 hp (294 kW)326 hp (243 kW)
Power Plant
Boiler
Calculated Values
DMU
local
last changed: 05/2022
Budd Rail Diesel Car
United States | 1949 | 398 cars built
Triple unit of BC Rail as the “West Coast Railway Excursion Special” in September 1987 near Whitford, British Columbia
Triple unit of BC Rail as the “West Coast Railway Excursion Special” in September 1987 near Whitford, British Columbia
Roger Puta
VariantRDC-1RDC-2RDC-3 (mail)RDC-4 (mail/luggage)
General
Built1949-1962
ManufacturerBudd
Axle config1A-A1 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Seats9070480
Dimensions and Weights
Length85 ft 0 in73 ft 10 in
Empty weight118,300 lbs114,200 lbs117,950 lbs109,200 lbs
Power
Power sourcediesel-hydraulic
Top speed85 mph
EngineDetroit Diesel 6-110
Engine type6-cyl. diesel2x 6-cyl. diese1
Engine output550 hp (410 kW)
Power Plant
Boiler
Calculated Values
DMU
local
mail railcar
last changed: 10 2023
German Reichsbahn VT 137 standard railcar
later class 185
Germany | 1934 | 57 produced
A railcar with an Essen floor plan in 1975 in Berlin
A railcar with an Essen floor plan in 1975 in Berlin
Rainer Haufe

In the years 1934 and 1935, the Reichsbahn procured three subtypes of so-called standard railcars, which were almost identical in appearance and technical equipment and differed primarily in terms of the layout of the interior. The 52 examples that were built made it possible for the first time to convert passenger and express trains almost completely to railcars on a larger route network.

Common features of these vehicles were a length of almost 22 meters, rounded front sides and a diesel-electric propulsion system with engines from Maybach or MAN, mostly with 400 hp. The first six pieces reached 100 km/h, all others 110 km/h. Thanks to lightweight construction with welded car bodies, the weight could be kept at around 50 tonnes. With this power-to-weight ratio, good acceleration could also be achieved with the unpowered driving trailer that was usually carried along. In some cases, trailers were also purchased and the motor cars were also designed for multiple working in order to be able to form trains of different lengths depending on the number of passengers.

The first variant to be built consisted of 20 vehicles, the structure of which was referred to as the “Essen floor plan”. They were created for traffic in West German conurbations and were designed for a quick change of passengers. In addition, they received double sliding doors in the middle and one single door on each side at the outer ends of the passenger compartment. The engine room was located behind one of the driver's cabs. Their running numbers were 137 031 to 035, 137 074 and 137 080 to 093.

This was followed by 20 examples with an express car layout, which did not have the middle doors and were intended for longer distances with fewer stops. They were used in the Ruhr rapid transit and in a large central German network. The latter was concentrated around Halle, Leipzig and Dresden, but also extended as far as Kassel, Braunschweig and what is now Poland and the Czech Republic. The vehicles were designated 137 058 to 067 and 137 075 to 079.

The third design consisted of 17 railcars with a standard floor plan. To ensure a higher passenger flow, they had a large storage space next to the middle double door. Apart from luggage, this was intended for passengers who wanted to get off again after a short time and were thus able to remain standing in this area. The company numbers were 137 094 to 110 and they were also used in the central German network.

After the war, in which some examples were converted into mobile emergency generators, 15 vehicles remained with the Bundesbahn and 24 with the Reichsbahn. Some of the Bundesbahn received new turbocharged engines and three were equipped with a hydrodynamic transmission. Their decommissioning was completed by the mid-sixties. At the Reichsbahn, up to five-part sets were formed. In the case of combinations of two motor cars and three trailers, it was sometimes necessary for a locomotive to push the train uphill. Some examples were redesignated as class 185 in 1970. The last ones were retired in 1978.

VariantMaybachMANMercedes-Benz
General
Built1934-1935
ManufacturerWestwaggon, Wismar, MAN, DÜWAG, Talbot
Axle config2-B 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Seats6059
Dimensions and Weights
Length71 ft 9 1/8 in
Wheelbase57 ft 3 13/16 in57 ft 5 3/4 in
Fixed wheelbase11 ft 5 13/16 in
Empty weight104,426 lbs106,106 lbs99,483 lbs
Service weight113,686 lbs115,366 lbs109,195 lbs
Power
Power sourcediesel-electric
Top speed56 mph68 mph56 mph
EngineMaybach GO 5MAN L2x6V 17,5/18Mercedes-Benz OM 86
Engine typeV12 dieseltwin-6-cyl. dieselV12 diesel
Engine output405 hp (302 kW)414 hp (309 kW)444 hp (331 kW)
Power Plant
Boiler
Calculated Values
DMU
regional
last changed: 02/2022
German Reichsbahn Panorama railcars 137 240, 462 and 463
German Federal Railway VT 905
Germany | 1936 | 3 produced
137 463 in 1939 in Dresden
137 463 in 1939 in Dresden
Georg Otte / collection M. Hengst

The popularity of the two “Glass Trains” ET 91 prompted the Reichsbahn to also order the diesel-powered panorama railcar 137 240 from Fuchs in Heidelberg. It had a similar structure to the ET 91 and was powered by two DWK boxer engines. The engines, along with some other aggregates, were mounted in an auxiliary frame to transmit less noise and vibrations to the passenger compartment. Thanks to the lack of roof equipment compared to the electric multiple unit, the roof was designed to be openable and the frame was reinforced to compensate the lower strength of the roof. The benches were designed with movable backrests so that the passengers could sit in both directions of travel.

Since the design made a good impression, two more examples with the numbers 137 462 and 137 463 were put into service in 1939. One vehicle did not survive the Second World War, the other two were taken over by the Bundesbahn as VT 90 500 and 501. They received new engines and brakes from 1953 and were based in Cologne and Stuttgart. From there they made excursions in a large area until they were retired in 1960 and 1962.

General
Built1936, 1939
ManufacturerWaggonfabrik Fuchs
Axle config 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Seats60
Dimensions and Weights
Length72 ft 11 9/16 in
Wheelbase57 ft 5 in
Fixed wheelbase9 ft 10 1/8 in
Service weight97,003 lbs
Adhesive weight57,320 lbs
Axle load28,660 lbs
Power
Power sourcediesel-hydraulic
Top speed75 mph
EngineDWK
Engine type2x 8-cyl. boxer diesel
Engine output355 hp (265 kW)
Power Plant
Boiler
Calculated Values
DMU
regional
tourist train
last changed: 02/2022
German Reichsbahn VT 137 347 to 396
German Federal Railway VT 605
Germany | 1939 | 40 produced
VT 60 531 of the Hammer Eisenbahnfreunde in October 1985 in Bochum-Dahlhausen
VT 60 531 of the Hammer Eisenbahnfreunde in October 1985 in Bochum-Dahlhausen
MPW57

The VT 137 with the running numbers 347 to 396 were diesel railcars for local traffic on secondary and occasionally main routes. Due to their properties, they were also summarized under the designation "225 hp branch line railcars".

The engine was a four-stroke, six-cylinder diesel engine housed in one of the bogies. In contrast to the previous types, these railcars had hydraulic power transmission, which made sense due to the increased engine power. Although the vehicles had regular screw couplers and buffers, trailers were not intended to be attached. This meant that only one powered axle out of two bogies was sufficient, which reduced costs and simplified maintenance. Instead, they had multiple controls

For use on secondary lines, the passenger compartment was divided up so that there was only one second-class compartment with six seats and 43 third-class seats. With a maximum speed of 80 km/h, it was also possible to cover parts of the route on main lines. However, this should happen less, since the vehicles originally did not have an Indusi

Of the 40 units built in 1939 and 1940, 31 went to the Bundesbahn after the war. There they were called VT 605 and they were adapted to the new requirements right from the start. This included, above all, a more powerful engine with 330 hp. In addition, the layout of the passenger compartment was changed in some and an Indusi was retrofitted. The Reichsbahn only got four pieces and the remaining five ended up in Czechoslovakia. While only one example of the former was still existing in 1970 and it was decommissioned shortly before the planned renumbering to class 185, two of the Czechoslovak vehicles were converted into electric railcars in 1955. The West German vehicles were renumbered as class 6605 in 1968, but were retired by 1972.

General
Built1939-1940
ManufacturerWestwaggon
Axle config1A-2 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Seats49
Dimensions and Weights
Length72 ft 5 5/16 in
Wheelbase57 ft 2 5/8 in
Fixed wheelbase11 ft 9 3/4 in
Service weight82,453 lbs
Adhesive weight26,455 lbs
Axle load26,455 lbs
Power
Power sourcediesel-hydraulic
Top speed50 mph
Engine type6-cyl. diesel
Engine output223 hp (166 kW)
Power Plant
Boiler
Calculated Values
DMU
local
last changed: 02/2022
Great Western Railway diesel railcars
AEC railcars
Great Britain | 1934 | 38 produced
No. 4 in the National Railway Museum, York
No. 4 in the National Railway Museum, York
G-13114
Variant12-1819-38
General
Built19341934-19371940-1942
ManufacturerPark RoyalPark Royal, Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Co.Swindon
Axle configB-2 B-B 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Seats697060
Dimensions and Weights
Empty weight53,793 lbs58,643 lbs79,851 lbs
Power
Power sourcediesel-mechanic
Top speed63 mph80 mph
EngineAEC
Engine type6-cyl. diesel2x 6-cyl. diese1
Engine output130 hp (97 kW)260 hp (194 kW)210 hp (157 kW)
Power Plant
Boiler
Calculated Values
DMU
regional
last changed: 09 2023
Italian State Railway ALn 772
Italy | 1937 | 327 produced
Preserved museum locomotive near Siena
Preserved museum locomotive near Siena
Smiley.toerist

In Italy in the 1930's there was a need for new vehicles for government sponsored excursions and inter-city express services. The ALn 772 was then developed, with the abbreviation for “Automotrice Leggera a nafta”, standing for “Light Diesel Railcar”. Thanks to modern construction and electrical welding technology, the twin-engine vehicle with 72 seats had an unladen weight of just 37 tonnes.

At each end was a driver's cab with an upright six-cylinder diesel manufactured under license from Saurer. They each had a displacement of 14.3 liters and each produced 150 hp. The engines were spring-mounted in the car body to reduce interior noise and vibration. Since the bogies did not have to accommodate the motors, as was the case with other railcars of the time, cheaper, older designs of bogeys could be used. The power was transmitted via a hydrostatic gear box and allowed a top speed of 130 km/h.

The production should initially take place at the Officine Meccaniche in Milan. Due to initial difficulties with the new production methods and limited capacities, half of the first lot of 200 vehicles was handed over to Fiat. Production was halted during World War II due to other priorities, but later resumed thanks to the Marshall Plan. By 1957, a total of 327 vehicles had been built for Italian customers, including some smaller, private ones in addition to the FS.

Some of the vehicles reached average speeds of over 100 km/h while on duty. They only faced competition from new railcars in the 1960s. In the 1970s, the service increasingly shifted to branch lines. From 1981 onwards, the inspection deadlines gradually expired, so that the vehicles were retired by 1986. Only very few examples have survived today, which is due to the execution of the noise insulation for the passenger compartment. Since large amounts of asbestos fibers were used for this purpose, health hazards arose as the material aged, which made restoration possible only with considerable effort.

After the war, Poland urgently needed new vehicles for passenger transport. Since the ALn 772 had similarities with the pre-war Luxtorpeda, the idea was to procure some of these railcars. Although Poland had too little foreign exchange, it did have high-quality coal. Since Italy hardly had any high-quality coal for the efficient operation of steam locomotives, an agreement was reached on the delivery of three ALn 772 in exchange for coal. Poland analyzed the vehicles delivered in 1951 and made replicas as the SD80. For a longer period of time, they performed their duties in express service and were converted into SR70 railway service vehicles from 1967 onwards.

General
Built1937-1957
ManufacturerOfficine Meccaniche, FIAT
Axle config1A-A1 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Seats72
Dimensions and Weights
Length80 ft 10 1/2 in
Wheelbase59 ft 2 5/8 in
Fixed wheelbase10 ft 0 1/16 in
Service weight81,571 lbs
Adhesive weight42,549 lbs
Axle load21,385 lbs
Power
Power sourcediesel-hydraulic
Top speed81 mph
EngineOM-Saurer BXD
Engine type2x 6-cyl. diese1
Engine output295 hp (220 kW)
Power Plant
Boiler
Calculated Values
DMU
regional
last changed: 02/2022
Italian State Railway ALn 668
Italy | 1954 | 787 produced
668 3237 in March 2012 in Marsala
668 3237 in March 2012 in Marsala
Lantus

Since the various existing types of railcars were not suitable for introduction in large numbers, a standard type was developed at the beginning of the 1950s. Experience from the narrow-gauge railcars of the RALn 60 type was applied here. To save costs, they received two commercially available truck engines, each driving one axle. The class 813 of the JŽ and the Y1 of the SJ were derived from the ALn 668.

787 vehicles were built between 1954 and 1981. They were created in several series, which had, among other things, different engines or different door placement. The railcars were usually used individually, but depending on the series they were also capable of multiple working. Specially developed control cars were rarely used because they were only approved for 90 km/h. The ALn 668 were only replaced by the Minuetto at the beginning of the 21st century.

VariantFiat 203SFiat 221HFiat 8217Breda D140S6h
General
Built1954-1981
ManufacturerFIAT, Breda
Axle config1A-A1 2'B'1A-A1 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Seats68
Dimensions and Weights
Length77 ft 2 3/4 in
Wheelbase49 ft 8 7/16 in57 ft 3 in58 ft 2 13/16 in58 ft 0 7/8 in
Fixed wheelbase7 ft 6 9/16 in8 ft 0 7/16 in8 ft 2 7/16 in
Empty weight70,548 lbs74,957 lbs81,571 lbs70,548 lbs
Adhesive weight37,919 lbs41,888 lbs39,683 lbs
Power
Power sourcediesel-hydraulic
Top speed68 mph81 mph
EngineFiat 203SFiat 221HFiat 8217Breda D140S6h
Engine type2x 6-cyl. diese1
Engine output335 hp (250 kW)365 hp (272 kW)553 hp (412 kW)268 hp (200 kW)
Power Plant
Boiler
Calculated Values
DMU
local
regional
last changed: 04/2024
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