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Soviet diesel locomotive TE109 (BR 130 Ludmila) for European socialist countries

Soviet diesel locomotive TE109 (BR 130 Ludmila) for European socialist countries
If in the field of shunting and high-speed locomotives the Soviet Union partly relied on the help of friendly countries, then we manufactured cargo versions ourselves. Moreover, many models of such equipment were exported, and not only to socialist countries.

One of them can safely be considered a diesel-powered locomotive, designed in the late 60s at the Voroshilovgrad (Lugansk) VZOR diesel locomotive building plant. Although the equipment was intended for limited use on the territory of the USSR, its main purpose was the railway facilities of European socialist countries.

Советский тепловоз ТЭ109 (BR 130 Ludmila) для европейских соцстранDiesel locomotive TE109, which has received an extensive geography of international deliveries. Photo: youtube.com

That is why, already at the design stage, engineers focused on ensuring that the design of the diesel locomotive body complies with the requirements of European roads 02-T. And it could be operated on the local track with a width of 1435 mm.

Prototypes and passenger version

When designing any railway equipment in the USSR, its widest possible use was always taken into account. First of all, both in freight and passenger traffic. And this case was no exception.

When in 1968 the Lugansk railway workers presented the first prototype of the TE109, a passenger version followed in parallel. They were distinguished by gear numbers, which gave the first greater traction, and the second a maximum speed increased by forty units.

The equipment, which stood at the VZOR assembly areas for 13 years, received a significant circulation for a diesel locomotive, exceeding a thousand copies in all versions. But its geography and variability were distributed as follows:

✅ basic model TE109 – 33 pieces
✅ twin 2TE109 – 3 pairs
✅ type 07 (for Bulgarian roads) – 90 units
✅ version for CSD (T679.2) – 2 diesel locomotives

Nevertheless, the roads of the German Democratic Republic became the most widespread user of this locomotive. Over time, it turned into a whole series, receiving the designation BR 130, 131, 132 and 142. And the total number of units delivered to this country was 873.

And there were serious grounds and reasons for this development of events, which we will discuss below. Now we just note that it is the cargo version of the diesel locomotive that has gained popularity. Since there were a number of insurmountable problems on the way to using it in passenger traffic - lack of communication with the train in terms of:

✅ air conditioning
✅ heating
✅ lighting

But this did not become a big problem or tragedy, since as a freight diesel locomotive, the TE109 turned out to be a very popular equipment, even in a competitive capitalist environment. Of course, Czechoslovakia or Poland (and Bulgaria too) could somehow manage without him. But for the GDR, it became a real salvation, which continued to play a role even after the state ceased to exist.

Extremely in demand for the roads of the GDR

East Germany, like other European countries, rapidly implemented the abandonment of steam traction in the early 60s. Everyone understood perfectly well the limitations of the latter in terms of traction, speed and economics. But the process was seriously stalled due to the lack of a worthy replacement for the old steam locomotives. And we are talking, first of all, about the country’s cargo industry.

The BR 130/131 became the main cargo version of the GDR roads. Photo: youtube.com

And then the Soviet comrades rushed to the rescue. The locomotive created in Lugansk was quite suitable for use by German colleagues. Therefore, already in the early 70s, active deliveries of TE109 (renamed locally to BR 130) began, which lasted until the end of the history of the diesel locomotive itself. Due to the poor condition of the local road surface, their maximum speed was limited to 120 km/h on all roads in the country.

In the 70s and 80s, several hundred BR 130 diesel locomotives really made a difference in freight transport in the GDR. True, almost from the very beginning, Soviet engineers had to slightly modify the design in order (at the request of the Deutsche Reichsbahn) to provide a heating system for the electric train. This led to the appearance of the new 1973 series in 131.

After another four years, six experimental DR Class 142 engines with a power of 3940 hp were created. With. They could have become the basis of an updated fleet with increased traction performance, but the advent of the era of highway electrification led to the curtailment of this project.

Driver's console TE109 (BR 130 Ludmila). Photo: youtube.com

Nevertheless, the most interesting things began to happen in the so-called. perestroika times. During this period, the two Germanys became as close as possible in all respects, which in the early 90s made it possible to create a united country. But, in addition to political processes, gradual economic integration also took place.

Operation in West Germany

The number of trips to neighboring Germany increased sharply by the beginning of 1989. And this required locomotives capable of handling heavy express trains. Time has shown that DB cannot offer anything comparable to the Soviet TE109 or BR 130/131.

By this time, the machines, which had been in heavy use for about a decade and a half, had undergone major modernization. They received new traction motors and axle drives. This allowed their maximum speed to approach the initial performance of the passenger version of the locomotive - 140 km/h. These redesigned diesel locomotives changed their designation to the 132 series.

3000-horsepower diesel locomotives can still be found in Germany. Photo: youtube.com

Very soon, colleagues from Germany, accustomed to giving personal names to various models of railway equipment, found one suitable for the Soviet worker. Federal railway workers and travelers named the locomotive with a beautiful Russian female name - Lyudmila. They probably imagined our energetic countrywoman, always ready to easily complete the most difficult work.

After German reunification, the locomotive classes were renamed DB AG 230/231. Their operation did not last long, because industrialized Germany quickly found a worthy replacement. But the updated class 232 has found its niche in new realities. Their use in freight transportation throughout the country continued into our millennium.

Technical indicators of a successful diesel locomotive

The fact that the Luhansk locomotive has found its application in a united Germany speaks volumes. First of all, the design of the VZOR specialists was successful and it became quite competitive. Many users paid attention to the high performance and indestructibility of the TE109.

TE109, manufactured as a running model. Photo: youtube.com

This was also appreciated by the Bundes Germans. Indeed, in the early 90s, it even operated on a number of intercity routes, connecting the German capital with the following West German cities:

✅ Hamburg
✅ Hannover
✅ Munich
✅ Frankfurt am Main

The successfully chosen power drive model helped the diesel locomotive achieve such successes. An important factor was the reliability of the entire mechanical part of the structure. Here are some of the characteristics of TE109:

✅ 16-cylinder diesel 1A-5D49
✅ power - 3000 liters. With
✅ length - 20,62 m
✅ axle load - 20 t

In the USSR, it was operated only within the boundaries of the isolated Norilsk railway. But he became the progenitor of a whole galaxy of excellent diesel locomotives of the TE brand. The 109th model itself was assembled from 1968 to 1981. During this time, 1001 locomotives were produced.


Photos used: youtube.com

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