Broader than Broad

Hitler's plan was not entirely new, as others such as Franz Kruckenberg had previously advanced the concept of broad gauge (4 metres) high-speed railways, but certainly not to the extent envisaged by the Führer. What had brought him to focus on the subject was the catastrophic transport situation on the Eastern Front, caused by the severe winter weather of 1941. It did not take long, however, for his imagination to run riot and expand the project into a network of broad gauge tracks binding together his 'Greater Germany' and its satellites. Despite being relatively little known, this in practice became one of his greatest obsessions, with which he kept himself occupied even as shells and bombs pounded the great city of Berlin into rubble. A huge amount of detail design was undertaken by hundreds of individuals in many locations, covering all aspects and ranging from rail fixings to the interior decor of dining cars.

Fig 1 illustrates comparative dimensions, showing the 1 metre gauge 0-6-0T DRG 99.101, the standard gauge 0-8-8-0T Class 96 (one of the largest European steam locomotives) and the 3 metre gauge Diagram 84 20000 hp freight locomotive (their respective overall heights were, in metres, 3.7, 4.65 and 6.85). Similarly, Fig 3 contrasts Floridsdorf's Diagram 90 3-C-C-C-3+3-C-C-C-3 (the Whyte system of wheel notation does not work well here; it comes out as a rather unenlightening 6-6-6-6-6+6-6-6-6-6) with the standard gauge DRG Class 58, old Prussian G12. It might seem extraordinary that reciprocating steam locomotives should have been considered, but in fact nine different types were worked up in detail, plus two more with gear drive. Fig 4 outlines the Floridsdorf 1943 Diagram 93 12 cylinder, 68 wheel, 20000 hp freight locomotive and Diagram 87 24 cylinder, 76 wheel, 24000 hp, 250 km/h gear drive express passenger type.

Thorough detail design was undertaken also on a wide range of passenger and freight rolling stock, which cannot be done justice here. As examples, however, Fig 5 illustrates the interior of the 196 seat cinema carriage, and Fig 6 the dining car. Intended to seat 192, it would have afforded superb views of the passing scenery through the enormous windows - provided they had not been blown in by the first passing train.

Robin Barnes, Railway Art and History  Robin Barnes, Railway Art and History