Walking over a bridge can take a long time. Just compare this picture, taken at the west side of Cologne's South Bridge (yes, it's simply called that. Südbrücke in German) with one taken at the other end
. OK, much of that can be explained with camera settings, but still, interesting to see.
Anyway, I'm extremely glad that I managed to take this picture, because there were only four of this locomotives ever built. This is the DR class 252, later class 156, the last new locomotive development of the GDR. While it looks vaguely similar to the class 120
of west Germany, it is a completely different design. The 120 is a universal Bo'Bo' machine with three-phase AC traction motors and a top speed of 200 kph (125 mph). The 252, on the other hand, is a conventional machine with simple commutated electric motors, and with Co'Co design and a top speed of 125 kph (78 mph) top speed making it purely a freight machine in theory. In practice, passenger trains never ran faster than that in the GDR anyway. It was planned to build a 160 kph (100 mph) version of the machine for train service Berlin (West) - Hannover, with line upgrades paid for by West Germany.
All that became moot when the wall fell. A new Hannover-Berlin line was built with a top speed of 250 kph for ICE trains. Freight traffic in the east fell when much of the economy there, largely uncompetitive in the world market, collapsed. With the class 120, the west already had a much more capable and modern locomotive design which formed the basis for all new locomotives. Finally, DB has sworn off six-axle locomotives due to the increased maintenance. As a result of all this, the class 252 had about as much place in the post-communist era as the Socialist Unity Party, so the order for the series was cancelled. However, the four prototypes, already begun before the wall fell, were finished.
In DB services, the machines were transferred to DB Cargo (now, after many renaming, DB Schenker), but as rare oddities, they were never liked that well. Finally, they were sidelined, but oddly enough not scrapped. Instead, a buyer was sought and finally found with Mitteldeutsche Eisenbahn Gmbh, a company that is jointly owned by DB, tank car leasing company VTG and Kühne & Nagel.
MEG 802 here, the former 252 002 and 156 002, is running light along Cologne's south bridge, way west of where it was originally intended to run. For some reason, it's also running on the wrong track.