The locomotives were designed to haul the more heavy regional services in Sjælland, Denmark, in the early 1980s, replacing much of the old rolling stock in use at the time.
The first unit, 1501 arrived in 1981 after many years of delay. Three years later, in 1983, DSB had received a total of 30 units. Although there had been some serious trouble with the locomotives,[specify][examples needed] DSB found a solution on the problems,[specify][examples needed] and an additional seven units were delivered in 1985.
As of 2017, 33 units are still in service, three has been scrapped and one is preserved at the Danish Railway Museum. The ME locomotives was expected to be replaced by IC3 train sets when the IC4 train sets were ready to take over Intercity services. The IC4 train set are very unstable in service and have a variety of problems, however, so they are not going to replace the IC3 train sets in Intercity services. As a result of this DSB have ordered 26 new electric locomotives that are going to replace the ME locomotives by 2020. The units were originally painted in DSB's black/red livery, but in 2006 they were all painted dark blue with red details on the side. In October 2016, DSB began painting the locomotives red to match their new logo.
The chimney is below the air intake of the Bombardier double-decker coaches used in regional services. The air in the couches was found to have a high concentration of diesel particulate matter, which induces cancer. DSB changed the air filters in 2013, providing a DPM reduction of 40%. But the concentration could still induce cancer for train staff, because they spend a long time in the coaches.
ME unit 1533 in the new livery pushing a set of doubledecker coaches out of Valby station.