By Ernest H. Robl


The end of the year is a time for reflection on what has changed and what hasn’t. So, I thought I would share another of my favorite Austrian railroad photos – that perfectly illustrates the concept of transition.



The date is June 1, 1976.  The place is the passenger station roundhouse in downtown Salzburg, Austria.  And, fate has placed representatives of two very different eras of electric locomotives side by side.

Both locomotives were numbered 01, but many years apart in both construction and technology.

In the foreground is 1118.01, a WW II era German designed locomotive with a 1-Do-1 wheel arrangement (1 pilot axle, four powered axles, and another unpowered axle). 

Behind it is 1044.01, brand new, the first of a large series of locomotives whose delivery began in the mid 1970s. These locomotives have solid state controls and continue in service in the early 21st century. The 1044 locomotives have a Bo-Bo wheel arrangement, with four axles in two trucks.


Pride of their eras

The 1118.01, once proudly hauling main line trains, had already been relegated to local service in 1976; the 1044 has just brought an express train bound for Germany to Salzburg. A German locomotive took that train over there. The 1044 would head back to Vienna with another express train early in the afternoon.

As a maintenance worker with a brush on a long pole scrubs the windows and headlights of the locomotives to make sure they are clean when they head back out, this slice of time captures a wealth of details.

The 1118 (ex E18) still wears green and the old raised-letter winged ÖBB logo.  The 1044 wears a reddish-orange coat and the new “Pflatsch” painted-on logo that would symbolize the ÖBB for the next quarter century.

1044.01 would later become 1044.001 and then 1044.501 after it was extensively modified for high-speed tests, during which it set some Austrian speed records.  While many of its brethren labor on on the Austrian rails, 1044.501, because it deviated from the standard series, has already been phased out and preserved as a historic artifact.

June 1976 was before the standardized computer numbering and check digits.  It was also before many 1044 locos were converted to rectangular buffers during major overhauls.

Most of the remaining 1044 series have been converted to 1144 locomotives with the addition of multiple unit controls, allowing them to be operated in tandem by a single crewman or to push unmanned when operated remotely from a cab control car (driving trailer).



But, one of the things that I always notice in looking at this photo – I have a large print hanging on a wall at home – is that the 1118 has been put on one of the “old and leaky” engine tracks in the roundhouse.  Notice the absorbent wood chips on the tracks in the foreground, placed there to catch oil and other drippings from older locomotives.

The 1044/1144 series was the last time that Austria had a very large series of locomotives custom designed and built for its use.  When a couple of tries at a successor generation proved both expensive and problematic, the Austrian railways finally decided to buy only slightly customized off-the-shelf locomotives, as evidenced by the Siemens-built 1016/1116/1216 “Taurus” series.

Yes, I had ridden the 1044.01 from Vienna to Salzburg that day in 1976, and I would later ride it back to Vienna.  The Lokführer had gone to eat lunch, but I had elected to stay behind to make photos around the roundhouse.  And, I’m glad I did, so I could witness this meeting of Era III with Era V.  (You can still find overlaps of equipment from as much as two eras apart.)

I did make color photos that day, too.  In fact, I shot mostly color.  But it’s this black and white image that’s one of my all-time favorite railroad photos.


Personal transition

In a way, that 1976 trip also marked a transition for me.  It was the last time I took my medium format camera with me to Europe to shoot black and white images.  I did shoot a few more black and white images in Austria in 35mm on a later trip, but, by the end of the 1970s, most of my clients wanted only color images, so that was what I shot from then on.

The 1044.01 was nicknamed “Irene” – see the name on the front next to the worker’s elbow.  As the song  goes, “Good night Irene.  I’ll see you in my dreams.”

(I own several HO models of 1044 locomotives from both Roco and Kleinbahn, with an 1144 on the wish list – but not of the 1044.01)




Postscript:  A few more photos and some commentary:


Veteran locomotive engineer Karl Pfisterer was justifiably proud of his brand new class 1044 electric locomotive and explained everything in detail on the trip to Salaburg and back to Vienna.


A look at the control console of the 1044 back in 1976:  The glass cover at lower right holds the operating (employee) timetable.  At center, the control with the bar handle works acceleration and dynamic braking; the control with the round knob is the “cruise control” which sets the maximum permissible speed.  (Even with the acceleration at maximum, the locomotive will not exceed the set top speed.  At center left are the headlight controls and below them the switches for acknowledging restrictive signals, part of the Indusi system.  Above the timetable are the controls for the pantographs and main power switch.



A 2014 Roco HO model of an early version of the Austrian 1044, as it appeared in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Most major European manufacturers have produced many models of the 1044 and 1144 in a variety of scales.  Roco alone has produced several dozen HO variations since the 1970s — and was still producing additional versions in 2014 (with updated internal features and components).  The 1044 could be found in front of both passenger and freight trains, with heavy trains often having two or three — in the latter case with two engines up front and a third pushing.  The locomotives often operated substantial distances into Germany, where they were also well liked by German crews.  They are slowly being replaced by Taurus loks on long-distance runs but are also sometimes operated in multiple (1144 versions) with a Taurus.




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