DRG Class E 18

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DRG Class E 18
DB Class 118, DR Class 218
ÖBB 1018/1118
118 054 in Bw Würzburg, 1983
Number(s): DRG E 18 01–53
DB 118 002–055
Quantity: 55
Manufacturer: AEG, Krupp
Year(s) of manufacture: 1935−1939
Retired: 1984/1991
Axle arrangement: 1'Do'1'
Gauge: 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Length over buffers: 16,920 mm (55 ft 6 in)
Service weight: 108.5 t (106.8 long tons; 119.6 short tons)
Axle load: 18.1 t (17.8 long tons; 20.0 short tons)
Top speed: 150 km/h (93 mph)
Power output (one hour): 3,040 kW (4,080 hp)
Power output (continuous): 2,840 kW (3,810 hp)
Starting tractive effort: 206 kN (46,000 lbf)
Power index: 28.0 kW/t
Electric system: 15 kV 16 2/3 Hz Catenary
Collection method: Pantograph
No. of traction motors: 4
Transmission: Helical spring gear
Running step switch: Camshaft controller with secondary transformer and precision regulator
Brakes: HikssbrmZ Compressed air brake; both sides of driving and carrying wheels
Train protection: Sifa/Indusi
Train heating: Electric

The Deutsche Bundesbahn (DRG) Baureihe E 18 is a class of electric locomotives in Germany, originally operated by Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft (DRG). With exception of Class E 19 it was Deutsche Reichsbahn's fastest electric locomotive.

The Austria Federal Railways (ÖBB) also used modified versions of the locomotives as Class ÖBB 1018.


Electric traction passenger services in Germany dates back to the year 1881, when near Berlin the first public line was taken into service in Berlin.[1] Despite successful test runs with three-phase current electric railcars up to a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph) in 1903, the German state railways decided to use single-phase alternating current because the overhead line of three-phase current was very complicated.[2] The first mainline electric locomotives were all equipped with large, slow-going single electric motors.

Obviously the large single engines and the resulting power transmission by connecting rods made for poor operation characteristics at high speed. Nevertheless it was not before 1913 that first electric main line locomotives with nose-suspended, fast-going single motors were commissioned. This development was further delayed by World War I. The decisive breakthrough was finally made in the 1920s, as large numbers of electric trainsets were developed for the electrification of the Berlin Stadtbahn in 1928. Accordingly also in 1928 the first Class E 17 electric main line express locomotive entered service.

Class E 17 was a huge success, with a total of 38 units produced. The smaller Class E 04 was derived for lighter service in the less mountainous middle German regions. However, during the mid-1930s DRG decided to speed up its express train services over the 120 km/h (75 mph) that Class E 17 was admitted for.[3] The newly developed Class E 18's basic layout was accordingly based on Class E 17.[4] The electric design was based on the newer Class E 04. With respect to the higher speeds new class E 18's shape was streamlined. The Class E 18 was capable of operating a 935-tonne (920-long-ton; 1,031-short-ton) train at 140 km/h (87 mph) on level track, and up to 360 tonnes (350 long tons; 400 short tons) at 75 km/h (47 mph) on a 2% gradient. Another innovation was that the Class E 18 was the first electric locomotive with an engineer's seat. Earlier models were operated standing.


In 1935 two prototypes were taken into service and tested by DRG. As no major changes were necessary, serial production began shortly afterwards. From the start these powerful locomotives took over most of the express services on electrified lines. Originally intended for service on the Berlin - Munich main line, due to a different layout of the overhead lines in middle Germany (World War II prevented the planned modification). Most locomotives were used in southern Germany. Some also served in Silesia.

During the development of the following Class E 19, DRG undertook several trial runs with Class E 18 in 1935 and 1936 on which a top speed of 165 km/h (103 mph) was achieved. With regards to the power, top speed and elegant design in 1939 during the Universal Exposition in Paris a Gold Medal was awarded to Class E 18. Austria's ÖBB also ordered Class E 18 units in 1937 (later ÖBB class 1018) with some changes: With respect to the mountainous geography these units were equipped with stronger motors (developed for class E 19) and the top speed was reduced to 130 km/h (81 mph) by a different gear transmission ratio, resulting in a significantly higher tractive effort. By 1939 when the units were delivered, Austria was occupied by Germany and the locomotives were delivered to DRG as Class E 18.2, numbers 201 to 208.[5]

With 53 units so far delivered, DRG ordered an additional series of another 48 units, which due to the war were not delivered. During the war six units were lost to air attacks and two to accidents. The seven units deployed in Silesia were in 1945 transferred to Bavaria in order not to leave them to the advancing Red Army.

After the war most units were deployed by Deutsche Bundesbahn, with two additional newly built Class E 18s commissioned in 1955 respectively 1955. Class E 18 in 1968 was renumbered to Class 118. Even though in 1956 the first serial Class E 10 locomotives (top speed 150 km/h or 93 mph) entered service, it was not until the deployment of the new Class 103 TEE serial types in 1970 that Class 118 was withdrawn from main line express service. Until retirement in 1984 they were used for regional services and charter trains.

DB 118 and ÖBB 1118 in Würzburg, 1984

In Austria the ÖBB renumbered its seven usable Class E 18 to Class 1018 and with some modernisations (e. g. new front windows) kept them in service until the 1990s. One German Class 18.1 also remained in Austria (renumbered to Class 1118), and another class E 18 was assembled from damaged E 18 206 and E 18 046 (renumbered to Class 1018.1). These two mavericks with the German gear transmission ratio were ÖBB's fastest locomotives until Class 1042.5 was commissioned in the late 1960s.

Rather adventurous was the history of Class E 18 in Eastern Germany after the war. Five units were usable after the war, but were in 1946 seized by the Soviet Union as war reparations. When they were returned in 1952 (in a poor condition), Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) sold them to West Germany's Deutsche Bundesbahn. This was also owed to the fact that much of the railway system and most of electrification equipment was also transferred to the Soviet Union in the early years of Soviet occupation, thus paralysing electric traction. When towards the second half of the 1950s DR began to restore electric services, DR needed fast electric locomotives and re-assembled three units from parts of six damaged Class E 18. These locomotives were renumbered to Class 218 in 1970. On an unrelated note, they underwent a conversion to a top speed of 180 km/h (110 mph) in 1969. Class 218 was in service until German reunification, but was pulled out of regular service way earlier.


Of the 55 Class E 18 locomotives built, six have been preserved. No. E 18 03 is in the DB Museum Koblenz. E 18 08 is owned by the Garmisch Stiftung Bahn-Sozialwerk and is stored at Augsburg Railway Park. E 18 19 is privately owned and is kept in the former Bahnbetriebswerk at Glachau. The town of Gemünden am Main is seeking to turn E 18 24 into a worthy monument with its long tradition as a railway hub, but at present it is being restored in Weimar by the TEV Thüringer Eisenbahn. E 18 31 (formerly in the DR fleet) belongs to the Dresden Transport Museum and is stored in shed P. No. E 18 47 is owned by the Nuremberg Transport Museum.


  1. ^ German WP article on electric traction
  2. ^ Until the late second half of the 20th century it was not possible to convert AC to three-phase current inside the locomotive, the overhead lines had to comprise at least two wires (if the tracks were used for the third phase). This very complicated systems was only invented in Italy, because most railways weighed the high installation and maintenance costs higher than the advantages of the smaller and easier to maintain three-phase motors. This has recently changed, as today's electronics allow the transformation inside the loco without excessive weight or space needed.
  3. ^ This is true not only for electric services: DRG's standard steam main line express Class 01, commissioned in 1926, was capable of an operating speed of 130 km/h (81 mph). In order to increase operating speed, the stronger and streamlined Class 01.10 with a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph) was developed during the mid-1930s and commissioned 1939.
  4. ^ It was not until Class E 44 successfully proved the concept of an electric locomotive with drive wheels only that DRG had the heart to abandon the design of leading idler wheels for fast locomotives.
  5. ^ Note on numbering: DRG planned to deploy more than one hundred Class E 18, therefore the German version would have been Class E 18.0 and E 18.1, the different Austrian units accordingly Class 18.2.


  • Bäzold, Dieter and Obermayer, Horst J. Eisenbahn-Journal Sonderausgabe IV/92: Die E 18 und E 19. Hermann Merker Verlag GmbH. ISBN 3-922404-38-3. 
  • Braun and Hofmeister (1979). E18 Portrait einer deutschen Schnellzuglok - Eisenbahnclub München e.V. München: Verlag Mayer. 
  • Obermayer, Horst J. (1970). Taschenbuch Deutsche Elektrolokomotiven. Stuttgart: Franckh'sche Verlagshandlung. ISBN 3-440-03754-1. 
  • Rampp, Brian (2003). Die Baureihe E 18 - Legendäre Schnellzuglokomotiven in Deutschland und Österreich. EK - Verlag Freiburg. ISBN 3-88255-218-2. 
  • Slezak, Josef Otto (1970). Die Lokomotiven der Republik Österreich. Wien: Verlag Josef Otto Slezak. ISBN 3-85416-075-5. 

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