The DB Class 218 Diesel Locomotive

The DB Class 218 Diesel Locomotive

By Roger Heid


While I was in the US Army, stationed in West Germany, I had a brief encounter with this type of Diesel locomotive. Let us take a brief look and see what this one is all about.


It is derived from the V 160 family. In 1966, twelve prototypes were ordered from Krupp. Upon delivery, they were designated BR 164. In 1968, they were re-designated BR 218. Up until 1979, 398 more samples were built by Krupp, Henschel, Krauss-Maffei and MaK.

They were a Diesel hydraulic design, featuring two 2-axle trucks. Depending on the variant, they delivered 2,500 – 2,800 hp. Top speed is rated at approximately 87 mph. They could be used for remote control tandem service, and they were widely used for passenger and freight purposes on non-electrified main lines.

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After the fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’ and the resulting re-unification of the two Germanys, the BR 218s also found wide use in former East Germany, on most all of them on non-electrified lines. Toward the end of the 1990s, the increasing use of DMU Passenger Trains (DMU -> Diesel Multiple Unit) caused the BR 218 to see less and less passenger service. In fact, those in need of extensive repairs were outright scrapped. However, it is reported that in 2008, there were still 200 of them in service. For all we know, there are still a number of them in use as of today.

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Overall, they were an excellent design, very successful and used all over Germany. They came in various different liveries, or paint schemes, a story all of its own.

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If you are modeling from Era III on forward, you should consider one of these, possibly even two of them, for an MU set-up. Maerklin offers them for the 3-rail AC folks; Trix has them in store for the 2-rail DC fans. The models are of very modern design and should have similar running characteristics to allow tandem (MU) operation.


Maerklin and Trix models

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