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About Photography / Student Torsten Kammer31/Male/Germany Recent Activity
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Drachenfelsbahn Switch by ZCochrane Drachenfelsbahn Switch :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 10 2 D-ESHB in EDCO by ZCochrane D-ESHB in EDCO :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 4 0 Flixtrain by ZCochrane Flixtrain :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 13 4 Innotrans 2018 - Stadler Worbla by ZCochrane Innotrans 2018 - Stadler Worbla :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 10 1 We used to be Transdev by ZCochrane We used to be Transdev :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 8 0 Zugspitzbahn by ZCochrane Zugspitzbahn :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 13 6 Innotrans 2018 - NE 81 Lucy by ZCochrane Innotrans 2018 - NE 81 Lucy :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 8 4 Drachenfels station by ZCochrane Drachenfels station :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 25 2 Innotrans 2018 - Newag Dragon 2 by ZCochrane Innotrans 2018 - Newag Dragon 2 :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 13 1 DB 186 in Aachen by ZCochrane DB 186 in Aachen :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 11 1 Vareo by ZCochrane Vareo :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 9 0 Everything old is new again by ZCochrane Everything old is new again :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 11 1 TRAXX 3 by ZCochrane TRAXX 3 :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 11 2 Drachenfelsbahn by ZCochrane Drachenfelsbahn :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 15 5 Innotrans 2018 - CRRC AZLok by ZCochrane Innotrans 2018 - CRRC AZLok :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 7 0 Innotrans 2018 - Innofreight SlurryTainer by ZCochrane Innotrans 2018 - Innofreight SlurryTainer :iconzcochrane:ZCochrane 7 2

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Drachenfelsbahn Switch
I got asked by mikopol how switches on the Drachenfelsbahn look like. Like this!

The key to understanding this is that there are really two parts to the mechanism. At the bottom, you have a fairly normal construction of a switch with switch rails. The rack, type Riggenbach, simply gets wider and diverges here, switching to a narrower design in the middle. But then just before the frog is the difficult part. Since the cogs of the cog wheel extend below the rail height, the wheel would get caught in a normal switch. Instead in this middle section, the rails get rotated in place so the cog wheel doesn't have to pass over any of them. The rack gets rotated in as well, which is necessary because the trains on the line have only cog wheel drives and can't run without the rack.

The complexity means that trailing-point movements are impossible and will likely result in severe damage to the infrastructure. it also means that switches are expensive and consequently somewhat rare; there are two at the middle station and I think two or three more at the bottom, and that's it for this line.
I've been doing a bit of flying again lately, this time out of Salzgitter, and with this plane: D-ESHB is an Aquila A211 (official ICAO designator AT01), a two-seater sport and training aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of 750 kg, 100 hp Rotax engine and constant speed propeller.

While I know pilots who aren't fond of this small composite thing, I really like flying it; it's very direct and the canopy gives a great view, and with the constant speed propeller, it gets decent performance out of what would normally be considered a very small engine.

Here it is in Obermehler-Schlotheim airfield in Thuringia, north-west of Erfurt. This former soviet military airfield has an amazing long runway (1400 m) and almost nothing else, but it's a nice place to stop when flying over the Harz mountains. 
Not a good picture, just for documentation purposes.

So the short story is that the HKX got a new name. The long story is quite a bit longer.

For reasons that go back to the 1930s, Germany never used to have a true long-distance coach system like you'd find in many other countries. Coaches for excursions, sure, but not scheduled services between regular stops, with some rare and specific exceptions (specifically bus lines where no adequate rail alternative existed, international lines [but no tickets sold between german stops], and as a weird cold war relic, lines to and from Berlin). That never made much sense, so the law was changed and starting from 2013, we've had long-distance coach travel as well. The market started with a lot of competitors, but very quickly consolidated down to only one company, Flixbus, controlling almost everything with a 93% market share (as of July 2017, last date for which I have figures handy). Flixbus is not a bus operator in their own right. Instead operations are contracted out to lots of smaller companies that run specific lines with their own buses and drivers. Flixbus provides management of the network, branding, customer relations and in particular ticket sales, so it seems like an integrated company in most respects. That's one of the sides going into "Flixtrain".

The other side is the market for long-distance passenger trains. Long-distance passenger trains are always open access in Germany, meaning anyone who wants to and has the trains can run them, but in practice basically only DB does. There is no major competitor like Westbahn in Austria or Italo in Italy, which is weird considering that both countries have a reputation of being very hostile to newcomers in the rail business. Anyway, what we get is that once every few years, someone will use either outdated DB equipment that is cheap or regional trains that aren't used on the weekend, operate maybe three return trips a day with that (at most), and declare that a new era of rail transport has started in Germany, before eventually cutting back the offering and/or folding (yes, HBX and Thalys haven't, but I'd argue that they're special cases).

The latest two in this market were HKX, running trains from Hamburg to Cologne, and Locomore, running trains from Berlin to Stuttgart. HKX never really folded, but drastically cut down their schedule and abandoned all plans to ever introduce the carriages they actually wanted once (refurbished Austrian EMU trailers). Locomore, on the other hand, simply went bankrupt in 2017.

In that situation, Flixbus jumped in and took over first Locomore and slightly later HKX. Since the "-bus" name didn't quite fit, it got the new name "Flixtrain". Like with the buses, Flixbus does not operate them. Instead, the HKX is operated by BTE (Bahn-Touristik-Express, a company that otherwise just runs special trains), while Locomore is operated by Czech private railway LEO Express, which subcontracts provision of locomotives and engineers to Swedish freight railroad Hector Rail. They also took over marketing for the seasonal private night and car train from Hamburg to Lörrach, which I think is run by BTE, but don't quote me on that. The BTE lines and the LEO Express lines are operationally completely distinct (and don't share any stations), they're only linked by the Flixtrain branding and by Flixbus providing ticketing and such.

Both use the same type of rolling stock, though: Siemens ES64U2 "Taurus" locomotives, either ones owned by leasing company MRCE or by Hector Rail, together with 1960s-era DB carriages in various states of refurbishment. Despite the uniformity and the uniform branding, they actually end up looking very different, since they all took different routes to get here. Some are directly sold on from DB, usually via leasing and resale company Heros Rail. Some are actually BTE's special train cars, which were used for HKX. A number of these carriages were sold from DB to the Netherlands, where they were known as ICK and ICL cars. They were only there as a stop-gap measure and have since returned to resellers in Germany, in particular Heros Rail, who are now leasing them for use in Flixtrain trains.

In this shot you can see the differences nicely: The first two cars have blue frames under the green and are thus ICK cars, because only they ever got a blue frame. The car that follows is also an ICK train, but apparently one that Heros leases out (there are deals in place where Heros only gets paid if the car actually runs), so it has the dutch blue-yellow and only a temporary green band, resulting in a very weird look. Behind that, with the white frame, we have a car that came from DB directly, where the last color scheme was white. It is followed by a car in BTE colours.

The whole thing seems to be working. The train was quite full, and there are plans to add new lines, in particular Berlin-Munich via the new high speed line, though that got put on hold, apparently because of a lack of ETCS compatible high-speed passenger locomotives approved for that line. To the best of my knowledge, there are currently exactly six such locomotives, the initial order for Siemens Vectron by leasing company Railpool. And all of them are leased to DB Regio for hauling regional double-decker trains on the line. So that's a bit of an issue.

Personally, I think it's interesting to see competition for DB. But compared to Austria or Italy, this is a bit disappointing. These ancient cheap trains will certainly find their market. Weirdly enough, DB even has their own, the IRE Hamburg-Berlin, which also uses outdated DB equipment, except in this case not resold obviously, and even also uses leased Siemens ES64U2 locomotives from MRCE. But if we want a real competitor to DB, someone needs to spend some real money, and so far Flixbus seems to be proud of the fact that they haven't. So right now, the main competition for DB remain Ryanair and their sibling at the high end, and at the low end, coaches - which are also operated by Flixbus, of course. Flixtrain is for now a sometimes useful curiosity, but certainly not (yet?) a massive shakeup of the way rail travel works in this country.


Torsten Kammer
Artist | Student | Photography
I am a railroad enthusiast. I'm also a computer enthusiast, but my products there don't make pictures anywhere near as nice. My photography is generally amateur level. I hope to get good enough to be a "Pro-sumer" one day.

Oh, and I write way too much in image descriptions. So if you want to know more, and particularly if not, that's the place.

It seems like some people actually like reading my long posts about weirder aspects of the german rail network, so here's another. What is the difference between these three trains?
Entering Remagen by ZCochraneProject Manual by ZCochraneLong-legged Talent by ZCochrane
Well, there's lots of differences, starting with the color and then going on for a long time (I just realised that the white one has a different coupler. No idea why), but the one I'm interested in: In each of these Bombardier Talent DMUs, the middle low floor part is at a different height. The first train (class 643.0 of) has it at roughly 60 cm above rail top. The second (class 643.2 also of DB, with branding for the Euregiobahn network) has it at roughly 80 cm above rail top. The third (of Regiobahn; no class number because that company doesn't have any other trains) goes above and beyond at roughly 1 m above rail top. While a number of trains are available in two heights, the Talent is one of the rare category that has all three, which it apparently managed by cheating: The Regiobahn one has the same carbody as the Euregiobahn one, but some spacers in the trucks appear to raise it higher. The trick to telling them apart, by the way, is the windows: The 55 cm version has the lower middle windows aligned with the bottom of the windows in the door, while the 76 cm version has them aligned with the top of the door windows.

The reason for this is, of course, that the german rail network has a lot of history that left it a bit of a mess in places, and politics ensure that it remains so to this day. The fundamental issue for all these trains is the height of the platforms that they are meant to serve. In Germany, you will, roughly speaking, find four different heights: 38 cm, 55 cm, 76 cm and 96 cm.

This requires some backstory. In the days of old, platforms were just about high enough that they were above the rails. The nominal value for such "classic" platforms is 38 cm above rail head, though you will still find many platforms that are actually much lower than that. As a result, trains in Germany have always had and always required built-in staircases that people had to climb. You can see that staircase below the white doors on this "Silberling"/n-Type carriage:
Karlsruhe Cab Car by ZCochrane
This was inaccessible to wheelchair users, and very badly accessible for people with a lot of luggage, the elderly and so on, but back in the day people just didn't care. Keep that in mind the next time you hear german rail fans say, "Silberling cars were so much better!".

The 38 cm figure matches, not by accident, the lowest step on that (standardised) staircase. The further heights are then all spaced about 20 cm apart, which means each one removes another step you have to climb up… but increases the gap you have to jump. Again, accessibility is a new topic for railroads.

The 55 cm step is then a compromise position that makes things somewhat easier, but doesn't cause any major gaps either. Many countries throughout Europe have adopted it as their standard, such as Switzerland or France.

From the other side of things, the 96 cm figure was first used on the Berlin S-Bahn, where the staircase would have impeded quick passenger flow. The solution was level boarding, which, at the time, required lowering the car floor a bit, and raising the platform to match, like on the subway networks. The 96 cm figure was then also used in Hamburg and in the first generation of post-war S-Bahn networks (Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart).

However, it is expensive and incompatible with normal trains, due to the wide jump. The 76 cm figure then is a compromise: Still reasonable for normal trains, and just a single step for the dedicated suburban trains (again, people at the time assumed that they wheelchairs were someone else's problem). In fact a number of S-Bahn networks were planned and built with 76 cm high platforms but using trains for the 96 cm platforms (with a 1m floor height). The networks in North-Rhine Westphalia and Nuremberg are examples of that… until they rebuilt some platforms in North-Rhine Westphalia to be at 96 cm for better passenger flow, and explicitly giving up on compatibility to normal trains.

Then, in order to improve convenience, DB started building newer trains specifically to the 76 cm standard and started establishing it in long-distance stations. There are still some stairs, but fewer, and you can fill the gap nicely. Apart from a few prototypes, the key example for this is the ICE:
Privilege by o-l-pixel
Picture by :icono-l-pixel:

So at the end of the 1980s, the situation was a bit confusing, with a rough "higher is better" idea. But many, especially regional, stations were still at the 38 cm or below, with platforms that increasingly looked like tar patchwork. In that situation, in the early 1990s we got a number of new developments (new for west Germany anyway): First, double-deck trains started appearing. They traditionally come in two versions: Doors over the trucks ( Don't get off at this side by ZCochrane) and doors in the lower portion ( Innotrans 2014 - Bombardier Twindexx Vario by ZCochrane).
Then we also got the first generation of low-floor single-deck EMUs and DMUs, such as the Talent above. And finally, the responsibility for managing regional traffic fell to the states.

So what height do you pick when ordering new trains and rebuilding your platforms? 38 cm is out, because mainline trains usually cannot be built to be that low. For single-deck trains, the difference between 55 and 76 is kind of irrelevant, you can order them either way. The Talent 2  Usual from now on by ZCochrane can actually be rebuilt either way pretty quickly: The floor height is at 65 cm, and at the doors there are ramps either leading down or up to it. These ramps are bolted on and can be replaced easily.

For double-deck trains, the question becomes interesting. The "over-truck" cars work much better with the 76 cm platforms; you still have to climb a few steps there. The cars that have platforms in the lower level, on the other hand, have their floor below platform level either way, just so you can get enough standing space. The doors there have ramps that lead up to the 55 cm level. These ramps can be raised electrically (in some cars at least) to reach the 76 cm level. That means only the "lower level door" cars are wheelchair accessible. As a result double-decker trains in Germany either have mostly "over truck" doors and one (or two, in Lower Saxony) cars with "lower level" doors, or they all have lower level doors. There are no (almost no? None that I'm aware of) trains with all "above truck" double-decker cars, and in particular, in Germany all double-deck cab cars have their doors in the lower level.

That means for double-deck trains, 55 cm is usually the right choice, because it provides the best accessibility. Of course, the lower-level doors means worse passenger flow (because the people in the upper level have to go down more steps, and because the lower level doors are not as wide), so maybe there's something to the 76 level after all? There are actually now a few double-deck EMUs, based on the single cars, that have lower-level entries at 76 cm, which they manage by not having any seats right above the doors; you can recognise them by the small window above their doors.
Twindexx Vario HD HBF (1) by engineerJR
Picture by :iconengineerjr:

It works, but you do loose a number of seats, and having a lot of seats is the reason why you go double-deck in the first place. So double-deck generally prefers 55 cm.

Single-deck regional trains can go either way. 55, 76, they don't care, just make sure you check the right box when you order.

ICEs are the last remains of classic high-level trains, and they would really prefer 76 cm. In their case accessibility is ensured via built-in wheelchair lifts in the trains (I actually don't know what the TGV uses, but I think at least the TGV Duplex probably prefers 55 cm).

The one meter (or 96 cm) figure is outdated and new S-Bahn networks (e.g. Hanover, Frankfurt/Main) don't use it, but due to the massive investment in it, it's not going away any time soon in most networks. In some cases new extensions to existing networks will still be built to that standard. This is actually the story behind Regiobahn. Their line, the S28, uses the S-Bahn network (with mostly but not entirely 96 cm platforms) between Neuss and Düsseldorf, and so they decided to buy specially made trains for that height, and built all their own new platforms on the reactivated branch lines at 96 cm as well.

The result is, as you can imagine, a bit of a mess. There's the odd 96 cm network still around. Other than that, lines were either adapted to 55 or 76 cm more or less based on what the long-distance stations in the vicinity already had, or what was cheaper (which will always be 55 cm), or what made sense based on whatever other considerations seemed valid at the time. In the former GDR, 55 cm is basically the existing standard, because it has a long history of using double-deck trains, most of them (and all since the 1970s) with low floor entries. Rural routes are more likely to use 55 cm than ones near major cities, but don't count on that always being true. Some stations have both, to serve different trains, and sometimes even at the same platform with a step in between, such as here at Düren:
Rurtalbahn by ZCochrane
The Rurtalbahn RegioSprinter sits at its very own 55 cm section, while the rest is at 76 cm, used mostly for double-deck trains with high-level doors. Düren, by the way, also has a 96 cm platform for the S-Bahn Cologne, as well as some non-rebuilt 38 cm (or lower) platforms also used by Rurtalbahn on the north side, which makes it one of the rare stations (possibly the only, I didn't check) that get the full set.

Obviously this situation is causing problems. Among the more unexpected ones, there's currently a lawsuit from an advocacy group for disabled people against… the Swiss railroad SBB, of all people. Switzerland has 55 cm everywhere and is happy with that, but their newest double-deck trains will also be approved in Germany. Since new regulations mean that the door height must be at most about 20 cm lower than the platform (here's a consideration that railway engineers of old would never have thought possible), the entry must be pretty precisely at the 55 cm level (actually a little bit above). Since the floor is actually much lower than that, this minimum height requires some fairly steep internal ramps. The Swiss advocacy group argues that this ramp is not practical for wheelchair users, so they want these trains changed through legal means. It seems so far like SBB is going to win this one, after loosing an earlier battle with the same group about different aspects of the same train that lead to a massive delay in the programme.

There are now some moves to unify things. For example, the S-Bahn Rhein-Ruhr, the northern part of the S-Bahn network in North-Rhine Westphalia, has decided to settle on 76 cm platforms everywhere, allowing them to use any EMU they like. They celebrated this freedom by buying the very ugliest they could find:
Db 1440-800 by Tigrar
Picture by :icontigrar:

They could do this because most platforms were built to the 76 cm level and not yet rebuilt to 96 cm, so there's actually not a lot of investment here. In the future the 96 cm level stations will need to be rebuilt, of course. This sucks for Regiobahn, of the white Talent at the start. They are part of the same network, and their fairly recent stations (opened in 1999) will all need to be rebuilt lower. They'll also need new trains, of course, but they're already planning to do that anyway since the line will be electrified (they'll get Stadler FLIRT from a batch order for them and other operators by the local authorities).

In light of all this mess, DB and the federal government have decided a comprehensive plan of action. In german, this plan is known as the "Bahnsteighöhenkonzept", because if there's one thing we can do, it's invent long words. The concept itself is actually a lot shorter than the word: Rebuild everything at 76 cm.

Needless to say that this plan has not found universal acclaim. Lots of regional networks have been rebuilt to 55 cm in the past twenty years, and together with the appropriate trains, they deliver a quality product. Changing everything to 76 cm will cost a lot of money (the plan does not include funding sources). It also decreases accessibility for double-deck trains - including the long-distance ones. It does make things nicer for customers of DB's ICE trains, but those are hardly the only or most frequent trains at most of the stations where they call, and they obviously ignore the vast majority of stations in Germany.

As of right now, all sixteen states have launched a formal protest against the plan, and they're planning a joint law initiative that would officially declare 55 and 76 cm to be equally preferred platform heights. At least the state of Baden-Württemberg has recently published a fairly detailed concept detailing which lines should get which height. The mess about dealing with the mess is probably going to continue.

Journal History



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JSH50 Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2018
Hello Torsten, Thank you for the fave! :)
kanyiko Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Many thanks for all of the faves!! :hug:
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JSH50 Featured By Owner May 8, 2018
Thanks again Torsten! :)
(1 Reply)
JSH50 Featured By Owner May 7, 2018
Hello Torsten, Thank you for the fave! :)
jpachl Featured By Owner May 4, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Danke für's +fav!
(1 Reply)
JSH50 Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2018
Hello Torsten, Thank you for the fave! :)
Stylistic86 Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2018  Hobbyist Artist
Hi there. I was wondering if you can help me with something in regards to GLLara. I have a custom model that I want to use on the program, but whenever I tired to use it, it shuts down the program. Is there a way to fix this or update the program? Because I want to keep up to date with GLLara.  

Here's the link to the model in question:…
(1 Reply)
JSH50 Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2018
 Thanks for the fave Torsten !
Hidden by Owner
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JSH50 Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2018
Hello Torsten, Thank you for the fave! :)
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Pajunen Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2017
Thanks for the :+fav:
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Emilion-3 Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Happy birthday.
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Tigrar Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
Happy B-Day!
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Raakone Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2017
Happy Birthday!
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