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An Ubiquitous Workhorse

NGT6 1315

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Morning all!


Well, then - this would be the second Austrian engine I should like to present to you ;) . With Roco being an Austrian manufacturer, it is, of course, quite logical that ÖBB models have been one of their focuses from the beginning - and, unsurprisingly, the class 1044 electric engine has thus been among their earliest releases, with the first release having occurred in 1979. The model has since been re-released many times and been treated to several improvements and modifications, much as the real 1044 has been over the years. The model we are going to look at today will be one of their most recent releases, representing one of those engines which were upgraded as class 1144.


But please do allow me to give you some historical and technical background first :) .


In 1971 and 1972 the Austrian Federal Railways (Österreichische Bundesbahnen, ÖBB) had procured ten class 1043 electric engines which were a derivative from the Swedish class Rc 2, famous for having been the first mass-produced engines to be fitted with thyristor-based traction inverters. While the ÖBB generally appreciated them, there but also were a couple of reasons why no additional orders would be made. Most prominently, the 1043 had a top speed of only 135 kph (84 mph) which was considered insufficient for future developments, especially in passenger service. In addition, ASEA, who had produced the 1043, were unable to offer an evolved version of the 1043 with both higher top speed of 160 kph (100 mph) and high tractive effort at the same time which would have been equally well suited for lowland express passenger services as well as goods trains across the Alps. At the same time, the Austrian locomotive builders had unveiled a suggestion for a nationally built electric engine which would be able to fulfil the ÖBB's requirements, drawing on experience gained from evaluation trials with a Swiss BLS class Re 4/4 engine fitted with experimental thyristor controls, as well as the class Ge 4/4'' narrow gauge engines procured by the Rhätische Bahn which were also fitted with thyristor controls.


Eventually, the ÖBB ordered two prototypes of the suggested new design which was to effectively merge the best aspects of the two Swiss engines from which it was inspired. They were to be capable of a top speed of 160 kph as well as propelling a 650 tonnes train on a 2.5% gradient at line speed, and keeping a 480 tonnes train at speed on the 3.14% gradient of the West Arlberg Railway. Calculations showed the new engines would need to have a power output of 5,400 kW. As with most other postwar Austrian engines, they were to be built by a consortium consisting of BBC, ELIN and Siemens for the electric part as well as Simmering Graz Pauker (SGP) for the mechanical part.


Engine 1044.01 was delivered to the ÖBB in July 1974 and allocated to the Vienna South depot, there to commence trials both on scheduled goods trains as well as special test trains. The results from these initial trials were satisfactory, leading to the engine being cleared for regular traffic and diagrammed for passenger express trains between Vienna and Villach. February 1975 then saw the delivery of the second prototype 1044.02, after which by both engines were reallocated to the Vienna West depot, where they were then put in service mainly working express trains to Salzburg and Passau. Only minor deficiencies which could be easily fixed were discovered during that phase, and in early 1976 the ÖBB then proceeded to order an initial production batch of 24 additional engines. Construction began in 1977 with two locomotives per month being delivered from late that year onwards. As the ÖBB were facing a serious shortage of motive power at that time, a second order of 48 1044s was quickly placed. As production continued, newly delivered 1044s were allocated to the Vienna West and South depots, as well as to Salzburg and Innsbruck, continuing to work both passenger and goods services from there.


A short time later, several 1044s were disabled by fractured wheel rims, the cause of which but could be quickly found and fixed. However, the heavy winters of 1979/80 as well as 1980/81 soon highlighted another design flaw as the ventilation was found to easily ingest snow and water, which of course caused damage to the electrical systems. Additional modifications were thus applied to the engines, making them fully winter-proof and reliable. In 1987 another follow-up order was placed, followed by several others, meaning that the last 1044 was built only in 1995. Naturally, the long procurement period meant that several distinctive variants of this class were created, incorporating a variety of improvements, which can be tied to the following specific engines:


  • 1044.25 was the first engine to be built with modifications around the chassis, intended to improve their riding dynamics,
  • 1044.50 was the first to be built with Monobloc wheels,
  • 1044.71 saw the introduction of the improved ventilation concept,
  • 1044.98 had additional modifications to the ventilation as well as to the headstocks,
  • 1044.201 was the first to be fitted with bogie yaw dampers and inter-bogie couplings,
  • a Wire Train Bus-based MU suite was fitted from 1044.216 onwards,
  • and finally, 1044.255 and all later engines were fitted with the Indusi I 80 type train protection suite with added LZB cab signalling, as well as ECP brake controls and emergency brake override (Notbremsüberbrückung, NBÃœ).

An interesting, but non-standard modification carried out on engine 1044.01 in 1986 transformed it into a prototype high speed engine, newly designated as 1044.501. Most notably, it was fitted with AEG-designed Geaflex drives, 22 mm strong armoured glass windscreens for added protection against impacting objects at high speeds, as well as cyclonic air filters and dehumidifiers in the ventilation circuits. As such, 1044.501 topped out at 241.25 kph (150 mph) during trials, but frequently suffered from drivetrain damage and was refitted with standard bogies in 1996. She was retired in 2001 and donated to the Strasshof Railway Museum.


Beginning in 2002, then, all engines from 1044.200 onwards were fitted with an improved MU and push-pull control suite, and newly designated as class 1144 – push-pull trains having been introduced in Austria only in the first half of the 1990s. In addition, 1144.200 through 219 were fitted with radio MU controls for distributed traction lashups, which but eventually turned out not to be frequently used in scheduled service and were not fitted to any additional 1144s. In addition, all remaining unrebuilt 1044s have been undergoing the same refit programme since April 2009, also turning into class 1144 engines in the process. In addition to the MU and push-pull control suite, they are also fitted with GSM-R compatible radios, PZB 90 software for the train protection system (thus also giving them back full operational clearance for Germany where PZB 90 software has been a requirement for several years now) and LED headlight and tail light modules. They are intended to take the place of the older class 1042 and 1142 electrics eventually.


Over the years, a number of 1044s were totalled in accidents, these being 1044.38 in 1980, 1044.47 in 1995 and 1044.241 in 1993. In addition, 1044.51 was rebuilt after having been seriously damaged, receiving the new number 1044.200 in the process. Other engines rebuilt with newly built bodies, but using as much of the original equipment as possible, were 1044.23 and .96, while 1044.92 could be reconstructed. Finally, 1044.117, which had been totalled after running into a rockfall in 1986, was replaced by a newly built engine with the same number. All in all, 217 engines were built, of which 210 remain in service. 1044.40 has since been designated as the heritage piece of this class, having been given back its original blood orange livery and number in the old format.


Next I should like to dedicate a few paragraphs to a technical description of the locomotive's design, as usual ;) .


The bogie frames are welded with two longitudinal beams and two transversal beams at the ends plus one in the centre, the latter of which also serves to carry the traction motor attachments and traction bar pivots, as well as the secondary suspension spring holders on the outside. There are four secondary springs per bogie which also absorb lateral movements between the frame and the bogies. The primary suspension is also provided by helicoidal springs, located between the axle boxes and the frame. Meanwhile, the traction bar pivots are located 190 mm above the rail heads. In addition, there is an inter-bogie coupling for allowing the bogies to steer each other into and through curves. The drivetrain is a BBC-designed flexible ring drive with rubber elements and helical gears with a ratio of 35:107, or 38:106 from 1044.201 onwards. Flange greasers are provided, these being either the Rebs or Sécheron type, as are sanding units.


The body frame is a bridge design consisting of two longitudinal and five transversal beams – two of these forming the headstocks, two being located above the bogie centres and one in the middle of the frame, which also carries the transformer – with containers for batteries and battery charger hung underneath the frame and buffers and UIC standard couplers attached to the headstocks. 1044.01 through .74 were fitted with rubber-dampened round buffers with crumple elements for crash protection; 1044.75 through .98 have round buffers with conical springs and friction dampening; 1044.99 through .126 as well as .201 through .215 have round buffers with plastic springs; and all remaining engines were fitted with hydraulically dampened rectangular buffers. The body is self-supporting and welded to the frame, with the side walls being corrugated in the lower half for added stability, and strengthening beams located behind the body fronts for crash protection. The doors lead into the engine room rather than the cabs themselves. The transformer and associated inductor are located in the centre of the engine room, with the traction inverters, motor blowers 1 and 2, auxiliary inverter and electronics rack being placed between it and Cab 1. Meanwhile, the braking rheostats are located between the transformer and Cab 2, as are motor blowers 3 and 4, the compressor, air reservoir and additional equipment racks. All internal installations are designed as modules – the actual German term for this layout being “Möbelbauweise†- with the intention of being easily removed through the roof during overhauls. The roof itself consists of six independently removable sections and is hollow to serve as a settling chamber for the cooling air. Ventilation grilles both for the traction motor and engine room blowers are located along the lateral edges of the roof, showing various different designs depending on the production batch. All in all, the following types of grilles can be found on the 1044s and 1144s:

  • 1044.01 through .70 have flush, coarse grilles; however, 1044.20, .26, .33, .49 and .70 were temporarily fitted with enlarged, sloping grilles in the outer roof modules for evaluation purposes,
  • 1044.71 through .95 and .97 have the same sloping grilles over the entire length of the roof,
  • 1044.98 through .126 also have full length sloping grilles, but with two different types of mesh in the outer and inner roof modules respectively,
  • 1044.200 through 290 were also fitted with full length sloping grilles, with vertically slotted grilles in the outer modules. As previously mentioned, 1044.96 was rebuilt with a 1044.2 series body after her accident, and thus sported the same grilles as this batch from that point.

The braking gear comprises an indirect pneumatic brake for the engine and the train, as well as a direct brake valve for shunting. The engine brake features automatic speed range adjustment and is blended with the electrodynamic brake, and also has an anti-slip mode. There also is a handbrake, acting only on bogie 2, or, more precisely, the left-hand wheels on wheelsets 3 and 4. The brake valves are Oerlikon FV 45 types, or FV 46 from 1044.255 onwards; 1044.01 was fitted with a FV 4a-03 type, however.


Auxiliary equipment comprises the four traction motor blowers, laid out as axial ventilators, as well as another two blowers for the heat exchangers within the oil-based transformer and inverter cooling circuit, and one engine room blower.


On the electrical side, the roofside equipment comprises one pair of single arm pantographs which are ÖBB VI types with spring-loaded retraction mechanism on engines 1044.01 through 126 as well as .201 through .215; VII types on engines .216 through 244 which also feature the same spring-loaded retraction mechanism but where it is fitted to the base frame rather than the roof; and VIII types with base-mounted pneumatical mechanism on all remaining units. The circuit breaker is a BBC DBTF 20i200 air blast type. The transformer – built by ELIN – weighs in at 10.6 tonnes, has four traction tabs providing 700 V each as well as one auxiliary tab with a 196 V output on engines 1044.01 and .02 and 206 V on all remaining engines, and one ETS tab with a 980 V output on 1044.01 and .02 or 990 V on all remaining engines. The transformer is oil-cooled, as are the inverters.


The inverters consist of 48 thyristor modules per unit which are laid out for 2,500 V and 320 A and connected in six parallel setups of eight modules each, as well as 64 diodes for 2,500 V and 450 A, also connected in six parallel setups of eight. The traction motors are forcibly ventilated, eight-pole mixed phase motors with an external excitation proportion of 55% and undulatory current proportion of 40%. They have an one-hour output of 1,350 kW each, maximum speed of 2,050 rpm, and weigh in at 3,750 kg each. They can also operate in braking mode, the electrodynamic braking circuit as a whole being able to provide a continuous power output of 2,400 kW and 122 kN, and a peak power output of 4,000 kW. Initially, two inverter designs were proposed, which were tested on the prototypes 1044.01 and .02 – 1044.01 having an eight-step bridge control cycle and 1044.02 a simpler four-step cycle, the latter of which was eventually chosen for the production engines. Even so, trials revealed that large portions of both the Austrian and German 15 kV OHLE network had to be specially refitted to handle the very large amount of reactive power caused by the new engines, which sometimes led to severe overhead voltage drops while starting up. On the other hand, electromagnetic interference from the 1044s was found to be well within acceptable limits and thus required no further modifications.


Finally, there is a low voltage three phase AC network working on 440 V and a frequency range between 50 and 100 Hz which serves to supply the traction motor, inverter and transformer cooling circuits, using a 125 kVA three phase generator powered in turn by a 112 kW mixed phase motor, and a 24 V battery circuit supplying auxiliary circuits such as onboard lighting and cab instruments. The braking rheostat blower, however, is fed directly from the rheostats themselves whenever the electrodynamic brake is activated.


Beginning with 1044.216, all engines were factory-fitted with MU controls, allowing to control two engines of the same type, or one 1044 and one 1014 respectively. Also, 1044.01 and .02 had originally been fitted with a more basic MU control package as well, which but was rarely used in everyday operation. However, when the ÖBB had their class 1042 engines refitted for push-pull operation from 1995 onwards, for which a new, more advanced control package, based on a Wire Train Bus, was designed and eventually declared to be ÖBB standard. Beginning in December 2001, all engines from 1044.200 onwards were scheduled to undergo a refit where this MU/push-pull package was to be installed, along with a passenger information package, turning these engines into what would be newly known as class 1144. As previously mentioned, all remaining unrefitted 1044s are now intended to be similarly outfitted.


As of now, the 1044s and 1144s are allocated to the Linz, Villach, Bludenz, Innsbruck and Vienna West depots.


The 1044 carried a variety of liveries over the years. Their original livery featured a mostly blood orange body with ivory roof and trim stripes, and black frame and chassis, with the black eventually being replaced by umber grey. In the late 80s, five engines were given the so-called “checkerboard†livery which used the same basic colours as the blood orange livery, but with a different arrangement involving a broad ivory trim stripe on the lower body sides and another ivory stripe vertically offset on the fronts. The windscreens, meanwhile, were surrounded by umber grey “gogglesâ€. Finally, 1989 saw the introduction of the so-called Valousek design, with umber grey frame, chassis and roof, agate grey trim stripes around the lower part of the body, and the rest being painted traffic red. The agate grey was replaced by off white on engines 1044.241 through .255, and again by a light grey known as NCS 2000 on all remaining engines.


There also were several special liveries, such as the famous promotional livery for the Euro which was applied to 1044.018 and revealed on 6 November 2000. Also, 1044.282 wore what was known as the “Confetti-TV†livery involving several characters from an Austrian cartoon show from 1998 till 2000.


The primary technical data of this class are as follows:


Length 16.06 metres

Width 2.96 metres

Height 4.26 metres


Wheel arrangement Bo'Bo'

Power output 5,400 kW/7,344 hp

Initial tractive effort 327 kN

Service weight 84 tonnes

Top speed 160 kph



So, let us take a look at the model now :) .





I think the 1044/1144 is among the most recognizable locomotive designs of the late 20th century, owing both to the stubby compactness of the design in general as well as to certain specific features, such as the forward-tilted fronts, bull's eye windows along the sides and the prominent ventilation grilles along the edge of the roof - depending on the production batch, of course ;) . This model is Roco's reference 62443, representing engine 1144 275, one of those engines fitted with LZB cab signalling. As a visual peculiarity specific to this batch, the LZB-fitted 1144s have a narrow umber grey stripe between the ventilation grilles and the remainder of the body sides.

I think the mouldings for this model have held up very well indeed over the past 31 years - hats off to the engineers who designed them in the late 70s!






Looking at the side of the Cab 1 end. Note how 1144 275 has been given UIC-TSI formatted numbers, which but are lacking the "A-ÖBB" suffix they should have. As is the case on the class 1822 engine I presented in a separate thread last night, the PZB transceiver is located on the bottom of one of the equipment containers below the frame rather than on the bogie.

There is no overhaul date inscribed on this engine, with the grid which would contain this information reading "REV Lz km.-abh." - the "Lz" being a reference to the Linz repair works and "km.-abh." meaning "mileage dependent". To the left you can see the braking gear type indication: On-GPR E mZ, translating as "Oerlikon brake valve, settings G, P and R, electrodynamic brake, direct brake" with UIC-conformal "R" setting (the R inside the rhomboid to the left) and ECP equipment (the "ep" icon to the right)






The inscriptions on the Cab 2 side contain the following information - looking from left to right:


  • Braking weights: R+E160 175 tonnes, R+E 135 tonnes, P+E 120 tonnes, R 120 tonnes, P 70 tonnes, G 54 tonnes, handbrake 17 tonnes
  • Service weight 84 tonnes
  • Property of ÖBB Traktion - the motive power branch - and depot allocation: Vienna West
  • Overall length of 16.06 metres and distance between traction bar pivots of 8 metres
  • Top speed of 160 kph
  • Certified for the ÖBB network and for Germany





And a look at the front - the handrails are not all that easy to be fitted, I might add <_< . Originally, the 1044s had three tail lights, with the third light having been located below the upper headlight - however, this light has since been deleted. The headlight clusters as such are a standardized design, as I believe you can see from this angle.






And finally a downward look at the roof. Note the ventilation grille for the braking rheostat to the left.



I hope you enjoyed reading this little piece! By the way, there is a very good German language book about the 1044 by Alexander Binder, Robert Köfler and Markus Rabanser, titled "Die Reihe 1044 der ÖBB" and published by EK-Verlag, which I used as the source for this article.

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Now I admit I know very little about Austrian railways, but that looks like a pretty decent model - crying out for weathering!


Well, I do see your point, but I somehow object to the idea of my imaginary depot staff allowing their engines to dirty up :lol: .


Just to give you an idea of how the various liveries and ventilation grille types looked:


1044.040 in blood orange livery and with flush grilles


1044.83 with full length raised grilles and single mesh type - the mesh being the same type as seen on the centre grilles on my model of 1144.275.


1044.203 with "checkerboard" livery - I actually quite like that one.

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Well, I do see your point, but I somehow object to the idea of my imaginary depot staff allowing their engines to dirty up :lol:


Weathered to be a clean loco, the difference would be amazing!


In those photos you've linked too (I like the earlier livery as it reminds me a childhood holidays!) there's plenty of dirt on the locos even though they're obviously cared for. You would be amazed the difference wathering would make!

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