The DB Class 101 is a class of three-phase electric locomotives built by Adtranz and operated by DB Fernverkehr in Germany. 145 locomotives were built between 1996 and 1999 to replace the 30-year old and aging Class 103 as the flagship of the DB AG, primiarily hauling Intercity services. This class encompasses the latest generation of locomotives of the DB.
In the United States, the ALP-46 locomotive is derived from the DB Class 101. Bombardier’s TRAXX shares a common heritage.
In the early 1990s it became apparent that the current electric locomotives serving the heavy and fast (speeds over 160 km/h or 99 mph) Intercity services, the Class 103, were wearing out. Their annual mileage of up to 350,000 km (217,000 mi), and the faster and heavier trains, for which these units had not been designed, meant increasing wear damage to the control units, traction motors, and bogie frames. In addition, as part of the Program DB 90, and to cut costs, the theory of “Drive to Deterioration” (Fahren auf Verschleiß) was employed, which increased the strain even further.
Another class in similar service, the 60 units of the Class 120 three-phase locomotive, had also reached a stage where both their age and their design meant ever increasing technical problems. Finally, there were 89 locomotives of the former East German class 112, capable of speeds up to 160 km/h (99 mph), but these units were no longer up to date, and were going to require expenditures in terms of cost of upkeep similar to the existing other classes in this service. In addition, this class was something of a political step child, and the DB wished for a truly new design along the lines of the three-phase Class 120 locomotives.
In 1991, the DB first called for designs for new high-performance all-purpose locomotives, using the program name Class 121. Designs for an all-purpose three-phase locomotive with an output in excess of 6 megawatts (8,000 horsepower) and top speeds of 200 km/h (120 mph) were offered, which turned out to be much too expensive for the DB. In addition, due to the separation of services into different areas of operation, suddenly an all-purpose locomotive was no longer required.
In December 1989 a second, Europe-wide bidding process was initiated, allowing the bidding companies more room for their own ideas. Over 30 designs were offered, from below 5 MW (6,700 hp) to over 6 MW (8,000 hp) output, including powered head units (Triebkopf) and units with only one driver’s cab (similar to the E464, in service today in Italy). The latter idea was not pursued by DB since it proved too inflexible in service trials, and the price difference turned out to be minimal.
The non-German firms Skoda, Ansaldo and GEC-Alsthom were eliminated from the contest at an early stage, as the local construction methods and achievements of existing units did not find favour with the DB. On the other hand, German firms Siemens, AEG, and ADtranz were able to shine with their modular locomotive designs which were customisable to the requirements of different customers and shared many common elements amongst each module.
101-062-8 in Munich Hbf.
Siemens and Krauss-Maffei already had a prototype of the Eurosprinter, class 127, in service, and AEG Schienenfahrzeugtechnik was able to very quickly present a working demonstration prototype of their concept 12X, the future 128 001. ABB Henschel had no modern prototypes, but only a concept named Eco2000, and a technology demonstration based on two already 15-year old rebuilt Class 120 locomotives.
To develop the components for the Eco2001, ABB Henschel used two Class 120 prototype locomotives, 120 004 and 005, which had been converted by ABB in 1992, in order to test new technologies in service. 120 005 received new electric power converters based on GTO-Thyristors, as well as new on-board electronics. 120 004 additionally received flexi-float bogies adapted from ICE units with driving rods instead of pivot pins, disc brakes, and utilising a new biodegradable polyol-ester cooling agent for its main transformer. Both of these reconfigured locomotives covered large distances in regular IC service without disruption. Video Rating: / 5