BR231 and BR232
Already a heritage locomotive: DR 130 101-9, built in 1972 and withdrawn in April 1997, is currently owned by BSW-Gruppe Halle. Photo taken in Koblenz-Lützen on April 3, 2010, by Jürgen Heegmann (source: www.commons.wikimedia.org).
232 658-5 from East-West Railways, photographed in Wolsztyn on May 2, 2008.
BR232-011, owned by PTK Holding (former PTKiGK Zabrze, now DB Schenker Rail Polska), is ex-Soviet TЭ109-033 (Lugansk 0860/1978), initially used at a bauxite mine and later sold to Germany. This photo was taken in Petrovice, Czech Republic, on March 3, 2009.
The same locomotive, photographed about one hour later in Zebrzydowice. Company logo has been ‘inherited’ after the sand railway.
BR232-446 (Lugansk 0681/1976), photographed at the PCC Rail depot, Sosnowiec Jęzor, on March 5, 2009.
Another picture of the BR232-446, which was sold to ECCO Rail in August 2014: Siemianówka, November 24, 2018.
232 349-1, DB Railion, photographed near Gera on March 14, 2009. Photo by Ryszard Rusak (thanks for permission!).
232 401-0, East-West Railways, photographed at the Sosnowiec Jęzor depot on November 27, 2009.
BR232-275 from the DB Schenker Rail Polska fleet, photographed in Rawicz on May 13, 2011.
Two pictures by Wojciech Kolondra (used by permission): BR231-063, PCC Rail, photographed in Katowice Ligota on October 2, 2006…
…and BR231-037 from the same company, photographed in Katowice in September 26, 2006. The latter was withdrawn in 2007 after a crash with the ET41-114.
232 356-6 from the East-West Railways fleet, photographed in Długołęka on March 2, 2012.
Two pictures, taken at the Sosnowiec Jęzor depot on April 10, 2012: BR232-152…
…and 232 135-4, the latter in the DB Schenker livery.
This locomotive, operated by ITL and designated W232.01 is ex-DR 232 143-3. Wesel, Germany, April 3, 2008. Photo by MPW57 (source: www.commons.wikimedia.org).
242 002, photographed in Stralsund in June 1993 by someone who wishes to be known as Benedictus. This locomotive, built in 1976 and withdrawn from DB in March 1995, was later sold to a private operator and still remains in use. Source: as above.
Private railway companies are playing an increasingly important part in Polish railway traffic; in early 2009 they already accounted for about 20% of cargo transported by rail, with an increasing tendency. Their stock includes both types used by PKP and those that had never served with the state railways. The latter group includes ex-DB classes 231 and 232, which are among the most powerful locomotives used in Poland.
Their history began in 1968, when Soviet diesel locomotive works of Voroshilovgrad (now Lugansk in Ukraine) built two experimental machines, TЭ109-001 and TЭ109-002. They were intended as the starting point for a new generation of Soviet diesel locomotives with four-stroke diesel engines and AC/DC electric transmission. Both were fitted with 16-cylinder 3000 hp 1-5D49 diesels. In late 1969 their two-section variant appeared, also in two prototypes: 2TЭ109-001 with older 2D70 diesels of the same rating and 2TЭ109-002 with 1-5D49s. All underwent excessive trials, but were not ordered by Soviet railways; only 31 production TЭ109s were built and all went to the mining and metallurgical industry (designations 130П or TЭ109П were sometimes used). Orders for the single-section variant, however, came from abroad. By far the largest were that from Eastern Germany. State railways DR had decided to base modernization of their motive power on the large-scale introduction of diesel traction. Apart from class V200, equivalent to Soviet M62 and Polish ST44, of which 378 were bought (plus eighteen for industry), more powerful locomotives were considered necessary, mainly for heavy freight traffic. Between 1970 and 1973, 80 TЭ109s were delivered, classed V300 and later re-classed 130. They were considered universal machines, with maximum speed of 140 km/h, but had no car heating devices and therefore hauled mainly freight trains, for which task their reduction gear ratio was too high. Two more (130 101 and 130 102) followed in 1973, but these were fitted with heating generators. Class 131 (76 examples delivered between 1972 and 1973, plus three rebuilt 130s) was intended solely for heavy freight traffic, with lower reduction gear ratio and maximum speed of 100 km/h. Principal version was class 132, a universal locomotive, which basically corresponded to last two 130s delivered in 1973, but had up-rated ED118 electric traction motors rather than earlier ED112As and was heavier by about six tonnes. This class numbered 709 examples, delivered between 1973 and 1982. Final variant, class 142 (TЭ115), with up-rated 4000 hp 2-5D49 diesel and ED120 electric engines, appeared in 1976, but numbered just six examples; due to electrification of principal lines from Baltic coast ports, further orders were not placed. This gives a total of 873 locomotives in the DR service. Initially these machines suffered from high failure rate and low reliability; these problems were, at least to some extent, eradicated in later 132s, in which many design modifications were introduced.
Besides DR, TЭ109 was also purchased by Bulgarian state railways BDŽ. 90 examples, delivered between 1971 and 1977, were classed 07. Basically they corresponded to the DR class 130. Two more were delivered to Czechoslovak state railways ČSD in 1971. Classed T679.2, they remained in service until 1976 and were generally found unsatisfactory, mainly due to high axle load. Both were later sold to Bulgaria and their parts were used there to assemble the 91th locomotive of this type in the BDŽ service. Initially numbered 07.1917, to commemorate the Russian Revolution, in 1988 it was re-numbered to a modest 07.91. Four 07s were fitted with car heating installations and re-classed 07.1.
Basic design was further developed in the USSR into single-section TЭ114 and two-section 2TЭ116. The former, intended for hot and dusty environment, was built for Egypt, Cuba, Guinea and Syria (240 examples), as well as for Soviet industry (sixteen, including prototypes); it was fitted with de-rated 3-5D49T2 diesel engine. The latter still remains in production (now in Ukraine); since 1971, more than 1700 examples have been built.
After unification of Germany, Deutsche Bahn (DB) initially took over ex-DR locomotives, their service numbers being changed by replacing the first digit ‘1’ with ‘2’. ‘New’ classes 230, 231 and 242 were soon withdrawn; of the most numerous class 232, over 400 were initially kept in service, but most were soon withdrawn to reserve. Some underwent various modifications. Ten examples transferred to Railion BeNeLux between 2002 and 2003 were re-classed 232.9 (they differed only in minor details from the main type). 65 were fitted with Russian Kolomna 12D49M diesel engines (class 233). 100 were re-constructed with trucks from withdrawn 230s (ex-DR 130s) and became class 234; of these, two were fitted with Caterpillar 3608 diesels, two with MaK units and two with 12D49s; large-scale re-engining was, however, finally considered too expensive and was not proceeded with. Finally, ten examples were fitted with 4000 hp 2-5D49M diesels and ED133 traction engines and became classes 241 (five) and 241.8 (also five, conforming to Belgian structure gauge and differing only in details).
DB sold a considerable number of surplus locomotives of these types to private operators and later some of them appeared in Poland. First were purchased by PCC Rail Szczakowa in 2000 and, after minor modifications (standard lighting, speed indicators etc.), impressed into service in both domestic and international traffic. Due to high rated power (which allows for eliminating double-heading with heavy freight trains), they enjoy a good opinion with railwaymen. According to available data, as many as 59 locomotives of the entire TЭ109 family have seen some service in Poland. This number includes seven 131s, 44 132s and a single 142 from Germany (with reference to their original designations – many locomotives of this type were rebuilt or re-classed during their service in Germany), as well as four ex-Soviet TЭ109s from industry (also via Germany – one of them was TЭ109-033, s/n 0860/1978, the last one built for domestic use) and three 07s from Bulgarian state railways BDŽ. A single 130 012-8, withdrawn in 1993 (!), was also ‘imported’ in 2010, but this locomotive not restored in service and scrapped in 2014. Former 132 055-5 was transferred to Sędziszów in May 2018, but information on its subsequent service is lacking. This gives a total of 61 examples. Several of them were impressed into PTKiGK Zabrze, later PTK Holding – in July 2009 taken over by Deutsche Bahn and re-named DB Schenker Rail Polska, then DB Cargo Polska. Initially the largest fleet was that of East-West Railways, a joint venture of Railion Deutschland AG and PCC Kolchem, based in Wrocław. Later more were transferred to DB Schenker Rail Polska from the parent company or its foreign branches, and also from various private operators. Their number in Poland continues to fluctuate. At the time of writing (December 2018) 24 were still in use with DB Cargo Polska or various Polish private operators, nine have been scrapped in Poland and 26 transferred to various foreign operators. In September 2018 BR232-253 and BR232-505, owned by Wrocław-based Industrial Division company, were leased to PKP Cargo for the period of two years; their designations and liveries remained unchanged.
There is no consistent designation system for these locomotives. Usually they ‘inherit’ designations after their previous owners. Most are designated BR232, although ‘BR’ is just the abbreviation of Baureihe, or class. Some have been re-numbered more than once. An example is provided by 131 004-4, delivered to DR in January 1973. In January 1992 it was re-numbered 231 004-3 by DB. Withdrawn to reserve in June, it was written off in December and sold to a private owner. Further owners were Eisenbahn-Betriebs-GmbH (1999), Adtranz (rebuilt in 2000 and re-numbered W232.06) and Bombardier Transportration GmbH (May 2001, leased to seven various companies during next six years). Sold to PTK Holding in July 2008, it was re-numbered BR232-006. In 2009 it was taken over by DB Schenker Rail Polska, to be scrapped in December 2013. This complex story was by no means exceptional. At least two Polish 232s (BR232-008 from PTKiGK Zabrze and W232.07 from Sigma company) have been fitted with 8-cylinder Caterpillar 3606 diesels, rated at 2700 hp.
Both in Germany and in Poland, this locomotive is affectionately referred to as ‘Ludmila’, after a popular Russian female name.
Main technical data – BR231
1) Plus three rebuilt from 130s.
2) Until December 2018.
Main technical data – BR232
1) Including two briefly used in Czechoslovakia (class T679.2).
2) Until December 2018
3) See main text for versions with different diesel engines.
References and acknowledgments
- LOZD vol. 2, LBDZ;
- Monographic articles by Ryszard Rusak (SK vols. 6, 7 and 12/2006);
- SK, various issues;
- www.kolejowaklatka.org (website by Marek Dąbrowski);