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German Railway History, Companies, Steam, Diesel and Electric Locomotives

Tracked coal wagons and horse drawn wagonways developed in Germany, as in other industrial areas of Europe, in the early modern period from the sixteenth century. Although experiments with steam locomotion took place in Germany at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the introduction of the key developments from England led to the first steam powered line in 1835. This was the 6km Bavarian Ludwig Railway hauling freight and passengers between Nuremberg and Fürth initially using the 2-2-2 locomotive ‘Adler’, supplied from England by George and Robert Stephenson.


The 10km Leipzig to Althen section of the Leipzig-Dresden Railway opened in 1837 and the line became the first long distance main line when fully completed to its full 120km distance in 1839. Steam locomotives were initially imported from the English companies of Robert Stephenson, Rothwell, Kirtley and Edward Bury. The first railway in Berlin was the Berlin-Anhalt Railway which operated from the Anhalter terminus in 1841. The initial rapid development by individual states in the 1830’s and 1840s was given further stimulus by German unification in 1871. Companies were consolidated and nationalised, forming a national network in the Länderbahnen period of state railways. In 1920 the seven Länderbahnen were merged into the new Deutsche Reichsbahn. Subsequently the West German lines became Deutsche Bundesbahn (DB) after World War Two and Deutsche Bahn was created for the unified Germany in 1994.  


German locomotive manufacture developed rapidly following the initial import of English locomotives; ‘Saxonia’ being the first German-built engine in 1837. Borsig produced its first locomotive in 1840 and Henschel in 1848, amongst other manufacturers such as Hanomag, Maffei, Krauss and Berliner Maschinenbau Schwartzkopff. Before 1920 a wide variety of designs had been produced by the individual German states and the new Reichsbahn began a programme of standardisation, the Einheitsdampflokomotive designs. This led to the pacific 4-6-2 express passenger locomotives of the BR 01 and BR 03 (Baureihen) classes, the high-speed streamlined BR 05 4-6-4 and the 2-10-0 BR 42 Kriegslok, BR 44 and BR 52 freight locomotives.


Diesel and electric traction was introduced by DB from the 1950s, replacing steam by 1977. Modernisation of lines and development of traction saw the development of the Intercity and Inter-City Express (ICE) fast passenger trains from the 1970s onwards.


This listing covers all our books on German railways while specific areas can be viewed through the sub-categories on the left of this page.  Click the book image for more details including the examples we have in stock.


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Lexikon der Eisenbahn by ADLER, Gerhard (Hrsg.)
ADLER, Gerhard (Hrsg.)
Lexikon der Eisenbahn

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Bildband Dampflokomotiven by ANDREAS, Hans-Dieter & BACKHAUS, Bernd
ANDREAS, Hans-Dieter & BACKHAUS, Bernd
Bildband Dampflokomotiven

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Die Deutsche Bahn aktuell - Typen, Trassen, Impressionen 1994 bis heute by BANK, Gerhard
BANK, Gerhard
Die Deutsche Bahn aktuell - Typen, Trassen, Impressionen 1994 bis heute

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Die Große Zeit de Eisenbahnen 1832-1914  by BARRET, André & des CARS, Jean
BARRET, André & des CARS, Jean
Die Große Zeit de Eisenbahnen 1832-1914

Worldwide survey of railway and their development through fine photographs taken before the First World War.

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Rail Gun by BATCHELOR, John & HOGG, Ian
Rail Gun

A history of rail mounted guns covering American, French, British and German guns. Landscape format narrative supported by many diagrams and photographs.

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Einführung in die Berechnung und Konstruktion von Dampflokomotiven by BAUER, Wilhelm & STÜRZER, Xavier
BAUER, Wilhelm & STÜRZER, Xavier
Einführung in die Berechnung und Konstruktion von Dampflokomotiven

Ein Nachschlagewerk für in der Praxis stehende und angehende Ingenieure, sowie für Studierende des Maschinenbaufaches

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Baureihe 101 by BAUR, Karl Gerhard
BAUR, Karl Gerhard
Baureihe 101

Die neuen Lokomotiv-Stars der Deutschen Bahn

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Die E03 by BÄZOLD, Dieter & RAMPP, Brian
BÄZOLD, Dieter & RAMPP, Brian
Die E03

Eisenbahn Journal Special 3/95

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Hof Steam by BEHREND, George
Hof Steam

One of the World's Fastest

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