Nazi Super Trains

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Nazi Super Trains

The greatest project in the history of the railroad! The
initiator was Dr. Fritz Todt, the General Inspektuer for the German roads. He
suggested to Hitler the construction of a “High-performance-train”.
Hitler was impressed and gave order in May 1942 to the Reichsbahn and the
Verkehrsministerium, to develop the “Reichsspurbahn”. At first, “they”
planned a wheel track with 4 meters, then 3 meters (=3.28 yards).

The high-performance-locomotives should pull 8-spindle
double-floor-wagons with a length over 40 meters (=43.75 yards), a breadth and
a top over 6 meters. The wagons should be able to be fitted with restaurant,
cinema, swimming pool, barbershop and sauna. The whole train would have a
length about 500 meters, the high-speed train was planned to go over 200 km/h
(125 mph). Usually the lines of the Breitspurbahn were built parallel to the
“normal” train.

The locomotives:

Length: the smallest locomotive 29 meters, the biggest 128
meters (with 52 spindles!!!).

Height: 7 meters

Motors: Maybe: Steam-Turbo-Mechanical,
Steam-Turbo-Electrical, Gas-Turbo-Electrical, Diesel-Hydraulic,

Power: 24000 up to 40000 PS

High-speed: planned up to 250 Km/h

Capacity: 2000 to 4000 passengers in 1 train

Companies involved in construction: Krauss-Maffei, Henschel,
Borsig, BBC, Krupp





am Inn-Linz-Wien-Preßburg-Budapest-Belgrad-Bukarest-Varna/Burgas-Istanbul



East-West Part Two:


Planning State at End of War: Only location-line-survey

The “Breitspurbahn”
of the Third Reich:

No one can accuse Hitler, or his inner circle of associates,
of planning the future of Germany or Europe in a small scale – nearly every
project undertaken in the Third Reich was massive in scope and cost. Usually,
financial considerations were of secondary consideration. As but one example,
Hitler wanted the best road-network system in the world (to serve his military
goals), and the resulting effort was the construction of the basic elements of
the Autobahn grid in Germany. Hitler also wanted the biggest and best
battleships and tanks (and many other social, political and technological
“bests”). Certainly, the super class battle ships projects of the KM, and the
late war “Tiger” family of tanks can count among the “biggest” ever worked on.
Germany also made a bid for the Olympic games, and Germany got them (winter and
summer). No expenses were spared to use the Olympic games of 1936 to show off
the new Germany.

That said, Hitler also wanted the biggest trains in the
world to serve the German Reich. The origins of the “Breitspurbahn” dream can
be traced back to at least 1936. It was during that summer that Hitler ordered
a young 36-year old Prof. Dipl.Ing. Albert Speer to begin working on Berlin’s
new central railroad station. This building was to be the most grandiose
railway station the world had ever seen. A key goal of this project was to
unite Berlin’s north and south railway stations via a “Reprдsentationsstrasse”
(a representative street), a street, which was 120 meters/384 feet wide and
five kilometers/three miles long. In 1937, Speer and “Betriebs und Bauleitungs”
Chief, Dr. Ing. Max Leibbrandt, were ordered by Hitler to have the necessary
building and railway infrastructure constructions completed by the spring of
1950. The “Sьdbahnhof” of Berlin was to be encased in a glass shell. It was to
be larger in size than New York’s Grand Central Station. Berlin’s
“Nordbahnhof” was to be only slightly smaller in scale. Munich and
other cities around Germany would also receive new railway stations, fitting
the image of a new Germany. Now, the only thing that remained was to work on
developing “bigger” trains to service these “bigger” train stations!

In October of 1941, in the middle of the war, Hitler advised
Fritz Todt of his plans to create a “Breitspurbahn” (a wide gauge railway),
which would connect all of Germany’s major urban centers together. Later, other
European cities, including Istanbul and the industrial regions of the Donetsk
in the east, would be added to the base railway grid. Fritz Todt took his cue
and immediately discussed with Hitler the need to construct a six-lane Autobahn
(three lanes in each direction) to the seized industrial regions of southern
Ukraine and southern Russia. In addition, a special “Breitspurbahn” should be
constructed between the mineral rich regions of the east and the industrial
regions of Silesia. Both agreed on scope and principle. Orders were quickly cut
to start making the dream a reality.

In the railway terminology, track widths of approximately
500 to 1.000 millimeters are normally classified as being narrow gauge
(Schmalspur in German). A typical setting for these types of trains might be in
mountainous regions or mining areas, the fortress railways in Estonia and
Latvia, etc., where constructing standard gauge tracks would be less than
ideal. Normally, the distances involved with narrow gauge lines would not be
too great either. German military “Feldeisenbahnen”, temporary supply trains
constructed between a forward supply head and the front lines, were also
normally in narrow gauge (typically 600, 750 or 800 millimeters). In Western
Europe and in most of North America, the prevailing gauge for train tracks
was/is in the standard gauge (Normalspur). This measures 1.435 millimeters/4
feet 8.5 inches in width (whereby it need be noted that the Ѕ inch was added
later to account for flaring and other railroad engineering peculiarities).

As a quick side-bar, the measurement of 1.432mm was first
used by railroad pioneer George Stephenson of the United Kingdom in 1825 and it
has been an agreed railroad engineering standard ever since in most western
nations. Some historians argue that Stevenson’s standard has its origins in the
axel width specifications of the chariots and the rut ways those chariots
created in the cobblestones of the roads of the Roman Empire. The ancient
Greeks appeared to be a bit more pragmatic in this regard. Why build a road
that is 10 feet wide when you can lay two rows of stones and carve a groove in
them for the wagon wheels to track – as long as the two rows of stone tracks
are set equidistant – 4 feet 8 inches apart – and you’re in business!).
Imperial Russia, then the Soviet Union as its successor state, used/uses a
wider width track, 1.524 millimeters/5 feet. Spain’s was even wider – 5 feet 6
inches. It need be noted that back in the mid 1800’s, the Russians were advised
by American railroad experts (and British as well as via Mr. Braithwaite) that
if Russia’s rail gauge were to be wider than that of Germany’s, the potential
future enemy, it would slow down the German armies, as they would then have to
spend extra efforts in converting gauges. During the Second World War, having a
wider gauge track did not really slow down the Germans much at all. They were
able to convert gauges with few difficulties encountered.

5 feet, 5 feet 6 inches wide gauge, etc., Hitler’s
“Breitspurbahn” (wide gauge trains) dwarfed them all. His dream called for the
construction of specially built and designed, high-speed trains running on
track that measured 3.000 to 4.000 millimeters (3 to 4 meters; 9.6 to 12.8
feet) in width, whereby it must be noted that a final width factor was never
formalized. “Breitspur” passenger trains were to travel at speeds of up to 250
km/h (150 mp/h) and freight trains at speeds in excess of 100 km/h (62 mp/h).
These were to be the super-sized, high speed bullet trains of their times.
Diesel locomotives weighed in at 350 to 400 tons (16.000 kW) and pulled
numerous 1.000-ton wagons. Electric locomotives (29.000 kW) were also planned

Passenger coaches were to measure 41 meters/131 feet in
length and have a height of nearly seven meters/22.4 feet, which allowed for
two floors to be installed in each coach. The interiors of the coaches were to
be lavishly furnished. Dining cars were to accommodate three long columns of
tables, each row having three islands of tables, each island accommodating four
people per table.

To maximize on and off-loading intricacies, “Breitspur”
freight wagons were designed with standardized “container” principles in mind.
Of note is that after the war, many nations in fact embraced the container
concepts used by the Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) before and during the war (the
first Deutsche Reichsbahn “Schenker Containers” were used to expedite on and
off-loading of German merchantmen in 1931; the term “Schenker Container” was
derived from the Schenker company, which was a pioneering user of containerized
cargo in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Schenker was bought out by the DR in 1931, but
the company still exists today as a world-wide leader in freight forwarding).
To maximize resources, “Breitspur” freight wagons had to be able to fit onto
existing standrad gauge flatwagons, when they were lifted off of their bogies.
The roofs of the freight wagons had to be hinged, so that cranes and other
unloading machinery could have fast access to the containers or storage spaces.
To aid in the design process, an enthusiatic Hitler provided the various design
and planning committees with a number of his conceptual renderings of locomotives,
coaches, interior settings, etc.

Concurrent to the “Breitspur” efforts, additional rail line
construction concepts were also worked on. Such as, for example, using two
standard gauge tracks side-by-side on one bed so that both “Breitspur” and
standard gauge trains could use the tracks. This probably would have been a
designer’s challenge (nightmare), especially when considering cantilever power
(Oberleitung) requirements (50 kV at 50 Hz), switching stations, etc.
“Breitspur” beds were to be laid in tandem; one “Breitspur” track was to be
dedicated for passenger service and one track dedicated for freight.

The Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH Friedrichshafen Company also
became involved with the “Breitspurbahn” project sometime in 1942. In the early
1930’s, the Zeppelin Company had experimented with propeller driven “Zeppelin”
railway engines with the Deutsche Reichsbahn. At the same time, they had also
developed contingency plans for building railway lines up to 6.000
millimeters/19.2 feet in width using their “Zeppelin” and propeller-driven
rail-wagon technology capable of transporting 600-900 passengers. Their
exploratory work was now shared with the members of the “Breitspurbahn”

There were critics of this undertaking as well. Most of them
were railroading professionals who did not believe that Germany could afford to
develop such a “global” undertaking, given that the war effort was far from
favorable from the German point of view. But, since Hitler’s views on
everything were essentially the prevailing ones, the critics were silenced very

Despite the given military situation, during the first few
months of 1942, orders were given to the Reichsbahn-Zentralamt in Munich, as
well as to the private companies of BBC, Borsig, Henschel, Krupp and
Schwartzkopf, to develop basic working models and plans for full project
realization. On 18 July 1942, theoretical discussions and preliminary plans
were tabled calling for the construction of the “Breitspurbahn” all the way to
from Berlin to Vladivostok as wellto India in Asia, Gibraltar and Rome. In
November of 1942, Dr. Ing. Gьnther Wiens, of the Reichsverkehrsministerium’s
Ministerialrat in Vienna, completed an initial report detailing the new
standards of brake specifications, signaling systems, HVAC (Heating Ventilation
and Air Conditioning) specifications, engine construction parameters, etc., for
the new “Breitspurbahn”.

On 05 April 1943, Hitler declared the “Breitspurbahn” to be
of national and military priority. While military needs were certainly a strong
factor in the overall designs of this project, greater weighting was given to
the need of shuttling German administrative and political personnel between the
Reich and the “outer territories” as well as exploiting the economic resources of
the newly acquired regions of Russia and the Ukraine. One economic projection
cited that the entire Ukrainian summer wheat harvest could be shipped back to
Germany within a matter of weeks if a “Breitspur” system were in place. With
regards to actually building this system, Hitler too was persuaded by the
necessities of war. He therefore decreed that as soon as Germany had won the
war, construction efforts on the “Breitspur” project would commence. For the
moment, the “Breitspurbahn” would not go past Rostov. Estimated yearly project
maintenance costs exceeded 1.2 billion RM – thus making the “Breitspur” project
one of the most expensive undertakings of the Third Reich. Although a large
number of people worked on the project, no formal construction efforts were
ever undertaken.

During the summer of 1943, the following “Breitspur” track
lines were on the drawing boards:

Ruhr-Aachen-Liege-St. Quentin-Paris

East-West 2:

North-South 1:
(a branch line went from Budapest to Varna)

North-South 2:

Die Breitspureisenbahn

Forschungsmitarbeiter Mitch Williamson is a technical writer with an interest in military and naval affairs. He has published articles in Cross & Cockade International and Wartime magazines. He was research associate for the Bio-history Cross in the Sky, a book about Charles ‘Moth’ Eaton’s career, in collaboration with the flier’s son, Dr Charles S. Eaton. He also assisted in picture research for John Burton’s Fortnight of Infamy. Mitch is now publishing on the WWW various specialist websites combined with custom website design work. He enjoys working and supporting his local C3 Church. “Curate and Compile“
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