Rail Bus

Just as every German model train manufacturer makes a V200, most all product lines also have either a VT95 or VT98 railbus. German slang calls local passenger trains bummelzugs (bumblebee trains), an affectionate description.  You can just see the local train running from town to town on a leisurely schedule, like a bee flying from flower to flower.

The little “red bumblebees” were found on most every German rail line, starting in the 1950’s. These versatile units were often the salvation of lightly used railroad branch lines. Where once a passenger train called for a locomotive, cars and crew of five, the rail bus had only a driver. At the end of a run, the motor could be turned off, something not possible with steam locomotives.  While the sleek electrified Class 03’s flew on the mains, the VT98’s puttered along, providing useful service to many small communities.

The early versions of these units was the single motor VT95. These would prove to be underpowered, leading to the double motored VT98.  Both units had corresponding trailer cars were are externally similar to the powered units. Both had a six-gear transmission and a Büssing diesel motor.  In most cases, these railbuses operated either singly or in short trains of two or three. In some cases, they could be called upon to handle a special freight car as necessary.

The VT95’s were gone from the Deutsche Bundesbahn roster by 1980; the VT98’s were retired by 2000. A number have gone on to other service, both as passenger units and specialty cars.  There is an interesting VT98 Site, in German.

The VT95 in its native environment

VT98 control stand

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