Happy Birthday 50 years V 240 001


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50 years ago, VEB Lokomotivbau „Karl-Marx“ Babelsberg (LOB) presented an optically outstanding diesel locomotive at the Leipzig spring fair from 02/28/1965 until 03/09/1965. Its outer shape very much reminded of the well-known V 180 C’C’. However, its novelty could be found in the interior: an installed power output of 2400 hp in contrast to 1800 hp of the first and 2000 hp of the second series of V 180 in those days. As well, both driver’s cabins were made of a glass-fiber reinforced polymer instead of steal like the mass-produced V 180. LOB and Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) intended to proceed into a new dimension of heavy duty forwarding. The locomotive remained in the ownership of LOB and was designated as V 240 001 in accordance to the nomenclature of DR. Until 1968, LOB tested its sample locomotive intensely in cooperation with the experimental section of DR in Halle/Saale (Versuchs- und Entwicklungsstelle der Maschinenwirtschaft Halle/Saale, VES-M). However, short-termed political rules inhibited the targeted development that could lead to a mass production series.

Hence, “our Hugo” – as the historic locomotive has been nicknamed since 2001 – remained a single piece and represents the climax of the development of high power diesel locomotives in GDR.

After finalizing the tests, the locomotive stayed in the works of Neustrelitz. DR was not any longer interested in this technical maverick and hence, LOB filed an application for wrecking it down in September 1968. The responsible departments in GDR, however, did not approve and finally, DR bought the locomotive in 1971. Utilizing parts of demolished V 180 081 and V 180 343, the works in Neustrelitz assimilated V 240 001 technically and optically to the serial version of V 180.2-4. According to the computer-compatible numbering scheme introduced in 1970 it was denominated as 118 202-1. Between 09/01/1971 and 05/31/1986 this locomotive was in ordinary operation for train haulage in Neustrelitz. After this period it was transferred to Kamenz, in which depot it was used and maintained until 07/04/1991. Its period as a locomotive-in-operation ended the next day. For some further time it served as a training device for the education of apprentices in Reichenbach (Vogtland).

Most probably, it was just a matter of time until it should be abandoned and finally wrecked down. However, several people organized in the BSW group “Dresdner Lokomotiven” clearly pointed out its outstanding importance – in spite of the fact that its present technical and optical shape could not directly disclose this noteworthiness.

Verkehrsmuseum Dresden (VMD) took it over in 1994 and had it transferred into the maintenance depot of Deutsche Bahn in Chemnitz. In that place, it was optically refurbished in its original appearance until 1995. Intense efforts lead to the decision of VMD to place the locomotive in Dresden permanently – and to not have it positioned in Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf. The first public presentation was on behalf the 5th Dresdner steam festival in spring 1996.

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Local technicians and caregivers activated their good networking contacts to the maintenance works of Dresden-Friedrichstadt to push forward their idea of a full-scale technical refurbishment and the final goal of re-activating the machine as an active museums locomotive. They were successful and shifted the engine to Friedrichstadt in November 2000. Apprentices restored the two diesels in the frame of their technical education. Additional enormous efforts of voluntary workers finally led to the announcement to Eisenbahnbundesamt (EBA, the German authority for railway technique) to have it approved as a locomotive in working condition.

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On 04/25/2001, EBA issued its accreditation in the presence of members of the BSW group and the caregivers as a historic locomotive in limited working condition – technically, everything is excellent, but due to the lack of INDUSI (and correspondingly updated installations) an individual use for ordinary and individual train haulage is not permitted. Ever since, numerous presentations were attended, the most impressing one being probably the parades in Nürnberg in June 2002. Just a short time later, heavy flooding in the city of Dresden severely affected all present museums locomotives in Altstadt in August 2002. The water had risen to up until the height of about one meter above track level, leaving behind disgusting mud on and in any affected parts. The members of the BSW group and IG Bw Dresden-Altstadt e.V., respectively, accomplished the clearance and technical refurbishment until the end of 2002. No negative incidents happened ever since – luckily. V 240 001 regularly presents itself as an outstanding object of admiration on behalf of numerous local or external exhibitions.

Sources: Archive IG Bw Dresden-Altstadt e.V.; Archive Alfred Hobl; Jan Reiners „Die dicke Babelsbergerin“ (Transpress, Stuttgart 2011; in German)

Text: Alfred Hobl and Dr. Christof Schröfl, January 2015

Translation: Dr. Christof Schröfl, January 2015