The BR 03 Steam Locomotive

The BR 03 Steam Locomotive

By Roger Heid


Early some Sunday morning, in 1929, a train destined for Somewhere Town got stuck in Elsewhere Village. The locomotive had died. The only other motive stock available was a BR 01. She could not be used because she was too heavy for the max load of the tracks ahead. The train couldn’t go anywhere until a day later. A lot of people were angry; it caused a big stink.

After a heated discussion, a group of engineers came to the amazing conclusion that the BR 01 was plain old too fat and that she needed to lose weight in a hurry. A team of loco dieticians put her on a controlled diet, concentrating on her lower frame.

Almost a year later, the loco diet engineers were very pleased with what they had come up with, namely a locomotive that had the good looks and performance of the 01 but able to run on lines with an 18 ton restriction. They called her a BR 03. The new loco liked that. She made her appearances all over Germany, one could hardly miss her.


Between 1930 and 1938, Borsig, Henschel, Krupp and Schwartzkopff managed to build 298 of them. By 1959, the DB in West Germany still had 145 of them running around. Some of them had been subjected to some fiddling around, making them just a tad faster and less temperamental. In 1968, now only 45 left, she was re-designated BR 003. The last 10 still in service in 1971 were stationed at Ulm. A year later, the last three die-hards were retired.

The DRG in East Germany inherited 86 of them. Poland took over 35 samples, calling them Pm2. All we know is that one of them went on display in a railroad museum in Warsaw, the capital of Poland.

download (1)

Let’s go back to 1939, the height of the ‘Third Reich’. Some engineers, possibly bucking for a promotion, decided to put some more finesse to the 03, and fancy her up a bit. In the process she became stream-lined, looking real pretty, and was promptly designated BR 03.10.

 imagesimages (1)

It had been planned that a total of 140 were to be built, starting in 1939; but on grounds of an outbreak of an international conflict, with extensive fireworks, production had to be cancelled in 1941, after only 60 had been assembled.

After the war, 26 of them stayed in West Germany, 21 in East Germany, 10 went to Poland (PM3). Two specimens did not survive the war; the whereabouts of one specimen is unknown.

During the post war years, there was a lot of doodling around with these 03.10s. Some issues were boiler related; others were economical concerns. Switching back and forth between brown coal, oil and back coal turned out to be a waste of time and money, actually. The end result was retirement and scrap yard for most of them by 1966. That’s why they were never re-designated.

Some were kept intact and used for excursion trains, mostly for nostalgic reasons. A few were placed in museums.


Polish PKP  Pm3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>