Deutsche Reichsbahn - 1949-1994: The Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) in East Germany

1949-1994: The Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) in East Germany

The Soviet zone of occupation became a self-declared socialist state, the German Democratic Republic (commonly known as East Germany), on 7 October 1949. One month prior, on 7 September 1949, the railway systems in the three western zones (the Federal Republic of Germany), were reunified and renamed the Deutsche Bundesbahn (DB - German Federal Railways).

On the formation of East Germany on 7 October 1949, the railway system in the Soviet Zone retained the name Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR), despite the connotations of the word "Reich"; this was due to the designation of the Reichsbahn in postwar treaties and military protocols as the railway operator in West Berlin, a role it retained until the creation of the unified and privatized DB AG at the beginning of 1994.

In the post-war years, the DR in East Germany continued to develop independently of the DB, but very much in parallel. The locomotive classification scheme, based on that of the DRG, was extended. The production, conversion and development of steam locomotives initially continued in earnest; older, especially ex-Länderbahn classes being rationalised and withdrawn from service. A major conversion (Rekonstruction) programme to update steam locomotives and rectify flawed, mainly wartime austerity, classes was carried out in the 1950s. Gradually, however, they were replaced by the more economical and easier-to-maintain diesel and electric classes. In general this happened rather later than in the West. In 1970, the DR renumbered its locomotives in order to conform to new computerised data standards.

On 3 October 1990, the GDR state acceded to the Federal Republic of Germany. Initially the two railway administrations continued to operate separately, but in 1994 they were merged to form the new Deutsche Bahn.

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