During the ‘60s, when the transportation competition was driven by automobiles and airline carriers, the DB was looking for an express locomotive, which could be capable of reaching 200 kph.
Four prototypes, marked as E 03, were finished in 1965 and introduced to the public during Internationale Verkehrsausstellung in Munich. During exhibition rides to Augsburg, all machines were regularly running top speed of 200 kph, although the installed traction performance of 6, resp. 8 MW, was recognized as insufficient.
Following needed modifications, the final and production version – DB 103.1 – was introduced and started its service in 1971. The machines were exclusively used for the new train service, which offered first-class travelling between major German cities – TEE and InterCity trains. Later, in 1979, second-class was introduced and that created a massive service demand from passengers, which put the InterCity in a position of the key component of domestic speed trains.
The DB 103 series held nearly a monopoly status for express trains in Germany and a total monopoly for travels above 160 kph. This was valid until 1987 when the new DB 120 was introduced and the 103 started to slowly deprecate.
There are roughly 20 pieces of DB 103 locomotives in Germany, many of them still in working state. You may see or hear some of them during nostalgic events.
Classic postcard. Train motif on one side, space for text on the other.
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