DB Class ETA 150
The accumulator cars of Class ETA 150 (Class 515 from 1968) were German railbuses used extensively by Deutsche Bundesbahn (DB) for 40 years. The railcars were very comfortable to travel in because they were quiet (despite the typical whine of their DC motors), rode well on the rails owing to the weight of the batteries, and were pollution-free (no smoke or fumes). They ran on both main and branch lines.
|DB Class ETA/ESA 150|
DB Class 515/815
Three 515/815 railbuses at Betriebswerk Hildesheim
|Number(s)||ETA 515 001–033|
ETA 515 101–138
ETA 515 501–661
ESA 150 001–216
|Quantity||232 power cars|
216 driving trailers
|Manufacturer||SSW, Rathgeber, O&K WMD, Wegmann & Co.|
|Year(s) of manufacture||1955|
|Axle arrangement||Bo'2'(ETA) and 2'2'(ESA)|
|Type||BD4 or ABD4 and B4tr.|
|Length||26.8 m (87 ft 11 1⁄8 in) (ETA)|
26.8 m (87 ft 11 1⁄8 in) (ESA)
|Empty weight||49.0–56.0 t (48.2–55.1 long tons; 54.0–61.7 short tons) (ETA)|
|Top speed||100 km/h (62 mph)|
|Power output (one hour)||2× 150 kW (200 hp) = 300 kW (400 hp)|
|Range||300 km (190 mi)|
|Capacity||352–548 kWh (1,270–1,970 MJ)|
|Driving wheel diameter||0.95 m (37.4 in)|
|Carrying wheel diameter||0.95 m (37.4 in)|
They were very popular with passengers, who nicknamed them Akkublitz (Battery Lightning), Säurebomber (Acid Bombers), Steckdosen-InterCity (Socket InterCitys), Taschenlampen-Express (Pocket Torch Express), or Biene Maja (Maya the Bee – because of the sound they made when under way).
As a result of many years of favourable experience with this type of vehicle (the Prussian state railways had placed accumulator railcars in service as early as 1907 – these would later become Deutsche Reichsbahn's Class ETA 178) and an evaluation of the results obtained from the use of Class ETA 176 prototypes, DB placed 232 Class ETA 150 power cars and 216 of their associated Class ESA 150 driving trailers in service between 1953 and 1965.
DB preferred to employ these two-coach sets on relatively level routes. They were rarely used on hilly lines owing to the resultant high current consumption and hence limited range. In the main this affected only those vehicles stationed at Wanne-Eickel and used in the Wuppertal area.
The main areas of operation of the class, apart from the Ruhrgebiet, were Schleswig-Holstein, eastern Lower Saxony, eastern Rhineland-Palatinate (in the Westerwald forest), south Hesse, south Baden, and the region around Augsburg and Nördlingen. The last few railcars also worked in the area of the Rhine-Ruhr Transport Union (Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr) or VRR until 1995.
In 1968, under DB’s renumbering scheme, the power cars became Class 515, and the driving trailers Class 815.
Compared to the Prussian Wittfeld accumulator cars, the ETA 150s had an unfavourable weight distribution − the batteries were located in the middle of the coach body instead of over the end axles, so that in their last years in service the frames tended to sag in the middle, which resulted in the vehicles' acquiring the nickname Hängebauchschweine (Pot-bellied pigs).
- 515.0, 1954–1956; battery capacity: 352-437 kWh
- 515.1, 1956–1958; battery capacity: 390-437 kWh
- 515.5, 1959-1965: battery capacity: 520-603 kWh
The first batch had a high proportion of 1st class seating; this was changed for the second batch, the number of 1st class seats being reduced to just eight. All ETAs had a luggage compartment. The original 2+3 seat layout was changed in the later batches to a 2+2 configuration.
- 515 003-033
- 515 101-112, 120-138 (Hamburg variant)
- 515 113-119 (Bremen variant)
- 515 501-508, 639-651
- 515 509-580, 604-638, 652-661
The twin-car sets were delivered in a wine-red livery. From 1975 some were repainted in beige and ocean-blue. Shortly before their retirement a few vehicles were painted in DB’s paint scheme at that time – white and peppermint green – and ran in this livery on the Nokia Railway (today the Glückauf Railway) from Bochum Hbf to Gelsenkirchen Hbf.
Two power cars were sold to the Regentalbahn (private railway), who converted them to diesel cars and designated them as Class VT 515-U.
Only a few vehicles could be preserved by museum railways because their maintenance is extremely difficult now that the maintenance of batteries at Limburg has ceased and the vehicles are required to go to charging stations. The maintenance and operation of normal railbuses is considerably easier. Number 515 556 is operational, but until it undergoes a general inspection it can only be used on the (museum) site of the locomotive depot.
The following have been preserved:
- Horst J. Obermayer: Taschenbuch Deutsche power car. Frankh'sche Verlagshandlung, Stuttgart 1973, ISBN 3-440-04054-2
- The Akkutriebwagen ETA 150 (515) and ETA 176 (517). Eisenbahnkurier Special Nr. 12. EK-Verlag, Freiburg in the Breisgau.
- Thomas Feldmann: Steckdosen-InterCity. Erinnerung an die Class 515. In: LOK MAGAZIN. Nr. 251/Jahrgang 41/2002. GeraNova Zeitschriftenverlag GmbH München, ISSN 0458-1822, S. 60-61.