Our SVT 137 856 type Cologne was part of an enormous infrastructure project of the 1930s. Its plans had been developed during the Weimar Republic. The aim was to install a rail network with which the capital Berlin could be reached from the entire Reich territory within just one day. For this purpose, more than 30 cities in the German Reich and border regions were connected to a network for high-speed railcars, all powered by Maybach engines.
Previously seemingly utopian maximum speeds of 160 km/h had now become possible, and the average cruising speed on most sections was 120 km/h. The speed at which the railcars could be driven was also higher. A traffic system of this rank existed only in Germany, other countries only realized partial sections. The impact of this innovation had a Europe-wide dimension, and so fast railcars with diesel engines were soon used in Belgium, Holland, Spain and France. The propulsions of the Maybach-Motorenbau had become an export hit.
It goes without saying that National Socialist propaganda instrumentalised the high-speed railcar network for its own purposes. 1935 offered a highly symbolic opportunity for this, as this year marked the 100th anniversary of the “eagle”‘s journey from Nuremberg to Fürth – the beginning of rail traffic in Germany. The fact that the idea for the rail network originated in democratic times was concealed at the celebrations.
In 1938, the rail network of express railcars had a de facto size that it only reaches again decades later. The outbreak of war in 1939 brought an abrupt end to all further expansions plans. From now on the fuel for the express railcars was used exclusively for war purposes. In further articles we will shed even more light on the multi-faceted topic of the “route network”.
Source and and tip for reading:
DB Museum (Hrsg.): Im Dienst von Demokratie und Diktatur, Die Reichsbahn 1920 -1945. 2010.