Austria’s ÖBB class 1822

Austria’s ÖBB class 1822

An orphan series that may just give you the perfect train to model

By Ernest H. Robl

As happens elsewhere in life, the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) class 1822 was a modern electric locomotive that just happened to be ahead of its time – and ended up being an orphan series of only five units.

On the whole, there was nothing wrong with these elegant locomotives. They were able to do what they were designed to do. The problem was that once they were built, that task was no longer there. And, a few years later, technology and market conditions had changed enough that the ÖBB chose instead to purchase off-the-shelf examples of the Siemens Taurus family for its current locomotive needs.

Unintentionally, the strange history of this series has also provided modelers of modern Austrian railroads (and Italian ones, too) with what may be the perfect passenger train for their layouts.

Is this the perfect modern Austrian train to model? Read on to see why this may be the case. Here – in the spring of 2000 — an 1822 is in full dynamic braking as it descends the twisting 3 per cent Brenner ramp from the Italian border to Innsbruck, Austria. The locomotive has its lone Austrian pantograph up. Its two other pantographs are designed for operation in Italy.

What prompted me to take another look at the history of this series? Jägerndorfer (JC collection) has just (2016) announced a new run of this model in HO, with a different operating number from previously available models that had sold out. When these models first came out a few years ago, I was preoccupied with other things and when I recently came to the conclusion that one of these would make a perfect addition to my collection, they were no longer available — anywhere.

Yes, I actually saw and photographed these locomotives in action – and even rode behind one on their home route.

Strange number

First off, 1822 appears to be a strange number for an Austrian locomotive, it is actually a correct application of the classic Austrian numbering scheme, where 18xx was intended for series of locomotives capable of operating under both AC and DC electrical systems.

Technically, some of the Taurus locomotives, which are capable of also operating on DC electrical system, should also be in the 18xx numbering series. However, to keep things simple, as all of the Taurus versions were somewhat related, they are all rostered as 1016, 1116, and 1216 series.


Around 1987, both the ÖBB and locomotive suppliers – at that time Austria was still focused on giving most of its rolling stock orders to domestic companies – began looking at developing a two-system locomotive that could operate under both Austrian AC and Italian DC catenary. One impetus was the growing interest in intermodal operations, particularly the Rolling Highway (“Rollende Landstrasse” or RoLa in German) system of transporting complete highway tractor-trailer units. Austrian transportation planners saw Verona, Italy, to Munich, Germany (by way of Innsbruck Austria) as a perfect route for such an operation.

Initially, the Italians also expressed some interest in this route.

So, the Austrian heavy machinery company SGP, which had also produced the mechanical parts of previous Austrian locomotives, formed a consortium with the electrical firm ABB to develop such a locomotive. (A few electrical components ended up being sourced from Siemens.)

The ÖBB ordered five demonstrator test units, with a view to a larger main order – which never materialized.

A variety of issues delayed delivery of the first unit until 1996. By then, for political reasons, the Italians had lost interest in a cross-border RoLa route. As the locomotives had been designed specifically to operate in Italy, the Italian authorities had little choice but to authorize their use on Italian tracks – though no agreement could be reached on a specific application. That didn’t leave the Austrians very happy.


So, the Austrians figuratively thumbed their noses at the Italians.

First, they built a large RoLa terminal at Brennersee, just inside the Austrian-Italian border at Brenner/Brennaro. From there, frequent RoLa trains were set up to operate into Germany. These trains could, of course, operate with conventional motive power, as both Austria and Germany had the same electrical standards. The Italian railways got none of the revenue from these operations, which ended up having a quite high demand.

Then, the ÖBB noticed it could take advantage of an existing treaty. Austria had long run so-called corridor trains between Innsbruck and south central Austria, with the trains taking a shortcut through a corner of Italy known as South Tyrol. That region had been part of Austria prior to WW I, and still has a German-speaking population.

For many years, these trains had operated with conventional electrics to and from the Italian borders on either side – and been hauled by Italian locomotives in between, for which the Austrians had to pay the Italian railways.

(Initially, these were true corridor trains, meaning that no passengers could board or get off in the Italian segment and the trains made no revenue stops there. However, with the relaxed borders of European unification, the trains also began stopping at a number of Italian towns, as there was quite a bit of cross-border traffic with the German-speaking Italians of South Tyrol.)

The treaty had provided that the trains could be operated through Italy by suitable Austrian locomotive – which Austria originally did not have.

Well, now Austria suddenly had five locomotives well suited for this purpose.

So, the Austrians began operating these passenger corridor trains with the class 1822 locos that the Italians had already approved. The Austrians now only had to pay the Italians for the electricity they used. And, the Italians had to pay the Austrians for the Italians who traveled on Italian segments of the train’s travel.


Most of these trains that did not operate beyond Innsbruck on one end or either Lienz (not to be confused with Linz!) or Spitall-Millstättersee on the other end were made up of only an 1822 and three long-distance coaches in the traffic red/lunar gray scheme. That provided more than enough power for these short trains and gave them great acceleration from station stops.

Some trains had only three second-class coaches; some included an AB (first/second) coach; and some had a first class and two second class coaches.

In all cases, the long-distance coaches provided better accommodations than Italian local trains operating on the same lines and the elegant 1822 engines (the angular body and paint scheme devised by the famous Austrian graphic designer Valousek) stood out from the drab, mostly brown, Italian electric locomotives.

It was one of these trains that’s depicted in the image at the beginning of this article.

The trains proved quite popular with Italian travelers.


Because they were conceived for heavy freight trains on the steep Brenner ramp in Austria (the grades are less on the Italian side of the Brenner Pass), the 1822 locomotives, popularly known as “Brenner Loks” have large dynamic braking grids, which take up a major part of the roof.

That limited the pantographs to three – one for Austrian/German catenary; two for use on the Italian side.

Because of the possibility of operation on somewhat lighter track in Italy, the locomotives are somewhat lighter in weight than other Austrian locomotives of similar size. They also have somewhat modest 4.4 kW (just under 6,000 hp) output. (The follow-up Taurus engines have a higher output, in part due to their higher weight.)

As the original plan was to have these locomotives operate in tandem on heavy freight trains, they do have MU capability with each other – though not with most of the other Austrian locomotives existing in the 1990s.

Because of their design for freight service, their top speed was 140 km/h (about 86 mph). That was adequate for the mountainous Brenner line and the rest of the corridor route – but woefully short of the 200 km/h standard for passenger trains on many other European routes.

Most striking are the fluted sides with the very large Austrian pictogram ÖBB logo. The Italians couldn’t miss that this was an Austrian loco.


So, ultimately the five 1822 locomotives became orphans, as it did not make sense to have them range too far from their base in Innsbruck because other Austrian locomotive maintenance bases would not have the relevant spare parts.

The locomotives were placed in storage in 2007 and ultimately all sold off in serviceable condition. Two, which operated in Poland, have since been scrapped after heavy use – and their owner not wanting them to go on the open market.

The perfect model passenger train?

Model railroaders are often criticized for running passenger trains that are unprototypically short – or which have trains with international equipment stopping in small-town stations with short platforms. A train with an 1822 and three long-distance coaches is perfectly prototypical for all of the above situations.


Pre-production photo of the new run of the Jägerndorfer HO model of the 1822. Notice that the Austrian pantograph is raised on this photo.

The new run of the Jägerndorfer 1822 has been announced for October of 2016. It will be available with and without sound in both DC and AC versions.

Matching Austrian coaches have long been available from Roco and several other manufacturers. In fact, this year Roco is offering new runs of some of these coaches with different operating numbers.

In fact, you can get these coaches in both full 1:87 (303mm) and compressed 1:100 (276mm) lengths.


Catalog photo of Roco 54241, a current model of an Austrian long-distance coach in compressed 1:100 length.

The above are only two examples of the many versions of these coaches presently available or available in the past. These coaches are also widely available on the used market. It is easy to assemble a train with three coaches with different numbers.


Me? I definitely see a model of a Jägerndorfer 1822 in my future. I already have half a dozen matching Roco 1:100 coaches and will probably acquire a few more.

Like many railfans and modelers, I like the previous traffic red and lunar gray coach scheme much better than the “Upgrading” (yes, they really used that word) scheme introduced in the early 2000s. And, I do like those elegant Austrian locos with the pictogram logo.


One Response to Austria’s ÖBB class 1822

  1. Anonymous user says:

    Hi. Pretty accurate however the 1822 was a mechanical nightmare. The 1014 that was based on it was also iffy and ended up being pulled out of service around the 10 year mark.

    After Siemens bought SGP they made sure to cut all support for 1822 1012 and 1014/1114 units forcing OBB to migrate to the Taurus (which is what siemens wanted to market as their staple unit).

    OBB was also wrapped up in corruption and all 3 types of locs I mentioned above were mainly political decisions. They never needed them… the pretext of running them as international units in Italy, hungary and cz was merely a justification to give ailing SGP contracts to try to keep it afloat.

    As late as 2012 OBB was writing off millions in maintenance costs for their 18 1014s that have been grounded for the past 4+ years. And yes, they were based on the 1822 so its very relevant.

    As for the typical consist, you fail to mention that 3 passenger coachers AND a baggage car was used 98% of the time. the baggage car is made by acme. very hard to get in the 90s paint but currently available in the newer design (grey doors).

    The roco eurofima coaches are absolutely horrible. LS models are much better but still barely adequate in terms of detail. There are no good eurofima coaches available; none were ever produced.

    Model world (post bankruptcy LSM) is supposed to come with a new mold in 2017 for the eurofimas but as always, dates mean nothing.

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