Electric Freight Routes

09 - 10 & 26 September 2009

Report by Duncan Cotterill


This wasn’t really a trip to Germany, more a trip through Germany en-route to and from the Czech Republic (Czech report here). I decided to take my own car this time but the drive from the UK was a bit much to do in one go. In order to break the journey into more manageable chunks, I spent the afternoon of Wednesday 9 September and the morning of Thursday 10 September in the Main Valley, south of Gemünden am Main. The line from Würzburg to Gemunden is a very busy freight route with frequent passenger workings as well. I’d visited the area in October 2006 (report) but the weather hadn’t been perfect and there were still shots I wanted. On the way back to the UK I spent most of Saturday 26 September around Hermannspiegel, on the line from Bebra to Fulda, another busy freight route and another location I’d visited in 2006.

Gemünden – Würzburg

Passenger Trains

The Gemünden – Würzburg line is served by hourly RegioExpress trains linking Frankfurt and Würzburg and by hourly local passengers running from various points in northern Bayern, via Würzburg, to Gemünden, with some continuing north to Schlüchtern on the Frankfurt – Fulda line.

Most of the Frankfurt trains are formed of push-pull sets with a class 146 at the Frankfurt end. Some sets are double-deck, others single-deck. During the afternoon and morning I spent in the area there were two sets in the circuit worked by pairs of 111s top’n’tail. Every time one of these workings was seen, both locos had their pantos raised.

The locals were also push-pull sets, again with the loco at the north (west) end of the formation. On my last visit almost 3 years ago, class 143s and 112s worked most local passengers and a few REs as well but this time only one 143 worked train was seen, RB34773, heading south on Thursday morning. Everything else was 111 powered, a distinct improvement in my humble opinion.

Many locos carried full UIC numbers in a uniform small font making it very difficult to identify individual engines as they sped past. Those I did note are listed below although there is a higher than normal chance of errors. You have been warned!

We 09/09/09

Loco Train No Details
111202+111224 RE4619 14:34 Frankfurt - Würzburg
111226 RB34786 ??:?? Bamberg – Schlüchtern
111224 RE4618 16:35 Würzburg – Frankfurt
111212 RB34787 16:38 Schlüchtern – Bamberg
146228 RE4620 17:35 Würzburg – Frankfurt
111211+111203 RE4623 16:34 Frankfurt – Würzburg
111191 RB34539 18:09 Karlstadt – Treuchtlingen
111214 RB34790 ??:?? Bamberg – Gemünden

Th 10/09/09

Loco Train No Details
146242 RE4602 08:35 Würzburg – Frankfurt
111xxx+111xxx RE4635 07:06 Frankfurt Fhn – Würzburg
111173 RB34776 ??:?? Schweinfurt – Schlüchtern
111211+111213 RE4604 09:35 Würzburg – Frankfurt
111xxx+111xxx RE4607 08:34 Frankfurt – Würzburg

Freight Trains

Freight traffic was heavy and varied with no less than 20 freights photographed in less than three hours on Wednesday afternoon and another 11 in 90 minutes on Thursday morning. There were a few more that I missed as well. Containers and swap bodies formed a high proportion of the traffic as did block trains of oil and chemical tanks. There was a noticeable shift in traffic between the two sessions with several car trains seen on Wednesday afternoon and virtually none on Thursday morning. Conversely, general freight was sparse in the afternoon but formed almost half the trains seen the following morning. There was a healthy variety of DBS motive power with a good number of 151s seen in addition to the usual 152s and 185s. A couple of 155s also appeared and there was one pair of 189s as well. Other operators were represented by class 182.5s/1116.9s operated by BoxXpress, MittelWeserBahn and Wiener Lokalbahn as well as a couple in MRCE black livery. ÖBB 1144 201 was a welcome surprise and there were a couple of trains worked by Dispolok class 253s (or are they now 223s) including 253 010. Mystery loco 186 144 in stealth livery (or is it just undercoat) turned up on Wednesday afternoon. I saw this engine between Plattling and Passau in early May and couldn’t work out who owned it then either.


What a superb line. It isn’t crawling with world-class photo positions but there are a handful of really good spots. You don’t have to do too much planning either, just go to a position that’s right for the light and wait for the next train. With around 4 freights and 2 passengers each way every hour, you won’t have to wait long.

Bebra - Fulda

Passenger Trains

Locomotive hauled passenger trains are few and far between on the Bebra - Fulda line. The Class 110 worked push-pull sets that covered most local services in 2006 have been replaced by Class 427 and 428 Flirt EMUs operated by Cantus. As units go, they’re not unattractive but I’d have preferred to see 110s.

There are regular InterCity services on the line, running between Dresden and either Frankfurt or Wiesbaden and worked by Class 411 tilting ICEs. One of these services, ICE1549, was loco worked, propelled by 120154.

Freight Trains

Although it was a Saturday, there were still a lot of freight trains with 20 passing me over a 5 hour period. Again there was a good variety of traction with the usual DBS 152s and 185s being joined by a few 151s, 155s and 182s as well as a CFL Cargo 185 and a pair of Locon V100s.


Another superb line with plenty of potential photo positions. The early part of the day was very misty but it eventually cleared, leaving a clear blue sky until early afternoon when it started to cloud up.


Germany’s main freight routes still have plenty to offer the photographer with heavy traffic, a good variety of motive power and some excellent locations. I’ll certainly be looking for some more areas to visit in the future.