The Class 120 - A Universal Locomotive with Three-Phase Technology.
The class 120.1 was the first three-phase locomotive in the world built as a regular production model and run on the German railroad system. The class 120's technology was intended to point the way for the later development of the ICE powered end cars. Apart from the transformers that were in need of improvement, the test runs were impressive, and road no. 120 001 became the fastest three-phase locomotive in the world by virtue of its record run at 265 km/h / 166 mph in 1984. The class 120 had been developed as a universal locomotive, i.e. for fast, premium passenger service as well as for service as motive power for fast freight trains. In 1984, the German Federal Railroad decided to purchase 60 class 120.1 locomotives. Compared to the four prototypes, which were authorized for a maximum speed of 160 km/h / 100 mph, the 120.1 was intended to reach a maximum speed of 200 km/ / 125 mph like road no. 120 005 had already done. The latter locomotive differed from the other pre-production locomotives in a somewhat different shape to its ends. The class 120.1 locomotives were, until the delivery of the class 101, the only locomotives allowed to push Intercity push/pull trains at 200 km/h / 125 mph. All of the locomotives were designed right from the start for multiple unit motive power consists. However, these units were seldome seen pulling freight trains. The 120.1 was used primarily in IC/EC service. The regular production locomotives were delivered in the new "Chinese red" paint scheme. Almost all of the locomotives are now painted in the current "traffic red" color scheme. Using the the class 120.1 as a starting point, the German Railroad designed locomotives with large format advertising - the advertising locomotive was born. The test runs with the 120.0 were so promising and the performance of the 120.1 was impressive in daily use, but the original wish to develop a universal locomotive with the class 120 was not fulfilled, and the DB purchased neither another production run of the 120.1 nor a successor locomotive. However, this locomotive was the inspiration for classes developed later and built in large quantities, and it represents an indispensable step to the premium rail service of the present.