German Railways in the East

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
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LWD
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by LWD » 11 Dec 2013 15:49

Well the remaining Soviet gear could still be used on the unreguaged sections on at least the lines it was on. It was also possible to reguage the rolling stock I believe. More of a problem for locomotives than cars. I seem to recall reading somewhere of cars that had 3 wheels on each axle to allow them to be used on both guages but not sure where I read that.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 23 Dec 2013 09:15

Re-gauging meant that all remaining Russian gear was useless. So Germans ended up with thousands of kilometers of new railroads, but number of locomotives and wagons did not change. In order to cover this shortage they moved stock mainly from France causing a major problems there.
Smaller locomotives (on re-gauged tracks) had shorter range than wide-gauge Russian ones.
Additional depots had to be build - on average one between two already existing ones. Until new depots were setup, trains had to be shorter. Further to that, in Nov-Dec 1941 when temperatures dropped, most of those French locomotives were blowing off boilers...
There was a cross border system bi-gauge system using special wagons whose wheels were not fixed to the axle which could be regauged by pushing them down a special section of track which pushed the wheels inwards and so changed the gauge.
But wagons are easy to convert to a different gauge as you take off the bogies and then use a giant press to move the wheels inwards. I have a photo from Die Deutsche Reichsbahn 1939 - 1945: Zwischen Ostfront und Atlantikwall - Knipping, which shows this being done. Locomotives you cannot change so the Germans gave their captured ones (a few hundred) to Finland. A major factor in the shortage of rolling stock was that the Soviets were very good at evacuating their railway equipment.

But you are right, the Germans had far too few (only 4,000 compared to 25,000 Soviet locomotives) and of the wrong sort of locomotive for such a huge network as they controlled at the start of 1943 which resulted in the Kriegslokomotive programme that produced the excellent Type 52 ''Russianised' locomotive.

The situation in France was that the French economy had collapsed and so rail demand had too, so there was spare rolling stock available in France the problem was that the Heer ran the French railways and the RVM and DRB could only get French stock released during the crisis in the early winter of 1942/3 which was too late. More informed railway policy would have balanced the European rolling stock now controlled by the Germans whcih would have reduced the strain on the DRB and given a better outcome in Russia.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by pugsville » 23 Dec 2013 15:07

I read the withdrawal of rolling stock and lococ from France in 1940, was a factor in the collapse of the French economy (along with the massive reduction in fuel for trucks)

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 23 Dec 2013 17:32

The underlying cause of the collapse in the French economy was the Occupation and the German's policies which in essence was to take everything that they needed for the German economy without regard to the effect on the French economy. Coupled with a reluctance of French workers to work for the Occupation authorities or to work poorly, for instance Saar coal workers and SNCF workers running French trains on time but German ones behind schedule, this produced both a collapse production and in general economic activity. To that extent the Transport was a symptom rather than a cause. Initial demands for rolling stock (to meet the DRB shortages,) in 1940 were for 1,000 locos and 20,000 cars in August followed later by a second installment of 1,000 locos and 65,000 cars. By mid 1942 the DRB had gained control over the European rail network and had started to balance the rolling stock against the demand and at this point the SNCF had sent 226,000 cars (out of a 1938 total of 463,000 cars) but this was reduced somewhat by 73,000 DRB cars operating in France as part of normal traffic exchanges.
Some of this rolling stock ended up in Russia but certainly in June 1941, almost all the rolling stock taking place in the invasion was German. German locomotives proved just a winter intolerant as any other European ones.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 25 Dec 2013 09:23

According to Mierzejewski:
[..]By the end of December 1940, the SNCF had lost 213000 of its 463000 freight cars[..]
So only 13,000 were sent to DRB from January 1941 to mid 1942 ????
Unless it's a typo somewhere, looks like France lost half of it's stock even before 1941 started...

If I am not mistaken, suggestion that collapse of French economy was caused by withdrawal of rolling stock and petrol shortages in 1940, appears in David Stahel books, which have excellent chapters about transport issues during Barbarossa.

Again Mierzejewski:
[..]Ostbahn had 1075 locomotives in October 1940[..]
[..]DRB had sent 4280 engines to the east before January 1942[..]

According to statements of Ostbahn's locomotive drivers I read, mainly Polish Ty23 and Ty37 performed well during winter 1940/41 and 1941/42 (before Kriegslokomotive was introduced).
They had the worst opinion about French ones (I don't recall their types). DRB never returned them to SNCF, so they were considered to be "German" ones... :)
If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 26 Dec 2013 09:11

Interesting post.
About the SNCF numbers, we are both using the same page in Mierzejewski. The reason I only used his first statement rather than this second one which you use here, was that 1) the source for the first quote is official German documents 2) the source for the second quote is a secondary source, which I have not had time to confirm yet. 3) The first source explains the movement of total 75,000 wagons, yet Mierzejewski gives no explanation of how or when the balance of the wagons are taken, nor does he give numbers of locos taken. He does tend to quote sources even if at variance with each other. Because lower down the page he says that French car loadings dropped by a third - which is serious but not fatal to the French economy and is a smaller effect than the 46% inferred from his car numbers figure that you quoted.

The issue of French rolling stock may seem off topic but it is not really, as a central part of the study is that by middle 1942, Julius Dorpmüller General Director of the DRB and Reichsminster for Transport goes to Hitler to say that the DRB cannot guarantee that it will meet all of its commitments due to a shortage of rolling stock given the demands of the East. He is replaced in "day to day operations" by Albert Ganzenmueller (HBD Poltava) as Deputy General Director of the DRB and Under-secretary of State at the Reich Transport Ministry. It is at that point that the DRB gains control over the European rail network (the Ostbahn comes later in 1943 due to Frank's influence) and is able to re-balance car numbers across Europe which helps the situation plus a new car replacement programme. This is all from Mierzejewski Hitlers Trains.

Interesting statement from the Ostbahn drivers but I presume they were talking about the GV rather than further East? Can you give the source? von Bork in the FMS series on transport given at the start of this thread says that 70% of all German operated locomotives were out of action in the winter of 1941. Operations were also slower because temporary water towers were frozen. temporary coaling stations (ie heaps of coal lying beside the track) were frozen solid and could only be dynamited apart, points were frozen and locomotives stored in the open took ages to thaw out.

As regards numbers Pottgeisser gives for 1.1.1943
locos / daily wagon loadings / length of line
Reich: 28,630 / 3,003,806 / 78,675
Ostbahn (Gedob): 2,088 / 238,060 / 7,111
Russia (RVD/FEDko): 4,671 / 398,408 / 34,979

which shows that the traffic in Russia was just under double that in the Ostbahn and yet the length of line was 5 times longer or 16% the number of locomotives running on half the length of the Reich. Traffic (even through traffic) was very thin in Russia)

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 26 Dec 2013 09:14

I do not have the types of German locomotives operating in RVD Osten though there is mention of using older Prussian types G5 etc, as they have lower axle loadings.

There is this article on Polish Locomotive naming systems http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PKP_classification_system
so a Ty37 is a T (steam) y (2-10-0 wheeled) 37 (introduced in 1937)
see:
Image

These Polish Decapods have a similar layout and engineering approach to Soviet ones and similar to the US Baldwin Decapods on US railroads and supplied to Imperial Russia during WW1 and again under Lend Lease to Soviet Union in WW2.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 26 Dec 2013 13:34

At the end of WW1 1,200 of this style of locomotive (the early Soviet 'E' or 'Ye' Class) were supplied by German and Sweden to the early Soviet State - so it is not as if they did not know which sort of locomotives were being used in Russia.
Image

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by steverodgers801 » 27 Dec 2013 22:17

two other things that hurt the French, oil imports stopped and Germany did not have enough to make up and a large number of vehicles were taken for the German army.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 28 Dec 2013 13:54

The point to draw from this discussion about the French railways is the date at which the DRB gains control of the railways from the Heer. There is this order in Pottgeisser which puts the date in January 1942 :
The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander
the Wehrmacht

Fiihrer Headquarters, 4. 1. 1942

OKW / WFSTb / Qu (Verw) No 8/42

1) From a yet to be determined day occurs for the railway network in the occupied Eastern territories following organizational rules in force.
a) The development and maintenance of the network for the highest performance and the operational management within an area designated in greater detail the responsibility of the Reich Minister of Transport.

b) The transportation chief notes the performance program for the development of the network on the scope and time. He gives the instructions for use of the network for the purpose of the Wehrmacht.

2) The required after 1 a) operating personnel, the Reichsbahn, which is under it in their official and disciplinary law. The disciplinary and criminal conditions are necessary, to be regulated by additional provisions. Food and accommodation of the Reichsbahn personnel is specifically stated in the agreement with the Quartermaster General.
3) The labor required for the expansion of the network are provided by Construction department of the Reichsbahn, the Army, the Organization Todt, the Construction Staff Speer or otherwise approximately put on the Construction units  after the construction planning of the operational leading railway departments.
4) As regards the development of the network and for the operation execution, the Reichsbahn the necessary mechanical equipment, devices and materials as far as possible from their stocks. Missing amounts are to be procured by them. For this purpose, the Reichsbahn receives special quotas by Reich Minister of Economics. The production is at the highest priority level (SS).
5) As regards the remaining military service links the German Reichsbahn also all the necessary facilities, equipment and materials in the same way as for the service operated by it in the eastern routes.
6) closely co-operation between the Ministry of Transport and Transportation Chef is made sure.
7) The measures necessary for the implementation and completion of this arrangement shall be issued by the Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht.
Gen. Adolf Hitler

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 28 Dec 2013 19:19

So with the Heer Transportchef Lt Gen Rudolf Gercke in control, the Eisenbahnpioniere, FEDko and HBD carried out the initial assessment of the Soviet railways when they were captured and this was added to the little that the Intelligence organisation had been able to glean. Generally their opinion of the railways in Russia was pretty low. Technical character of the track was not up to German standards, communications were poor and the Soviets destroyed most of the machinery needed to run railways such as water towers and the repair shops.
COMMENTS ON RUSSIAN RAILROADS AND HIGHWAYS
By Gen. Lt. a.D, Max Bork

I. Description of the Russian Traffic Network
A. The Rail Net
(Sketch 1).
In 1914 the Russo-Polish border area between the Baltic Sea and the Carpathian mountains was connected with European Russia by four main west-east rail lines which terminated in Leningrad, Moscow, the Donets Basin, and the Black Sea port of Odessa. These lines were crossed by four main north-south lines which connected Leningrad with Odessa; Archangelsk with the Crimea; Moscow with the Donets Basin; and Moscow with the Caucasus. This network was then crossed by two diagonal lines extending from Koenigsberg (Kaliningrad) to Kremenchug and from Riga to the Donuts Basin. In addition, this net connected with the Siberian and Mongolian systems to the east and with the Murmansk line to the north.
The main rail lines of European Russia were supplemented by a number of low-capacity branch, spur, and narrow gauge liner. Most of the latter had been built to meet the requirements of World War I. An overall view of the Russian rail net gave the impression of a lack of uniformity. In some places main lines were single-track for no apparent reason. Often, construction apparently intended to establish lateral links between main lines ended in the middle of nowhere.

SKETCH 1. SCHEMATIC DIAGRAM OF THE RAIL NET OF EUROPEAN RUSSIA
There were three areas in which industrial development had resulted in a certain density of trackage: the Donets Basin, Moscow, and Leningrad. The following statistics may serve to illustrate the density of the Russian rail net as compared to that of Germany. In 1938 the USSR had but .65 miles of rail per 100 square miles, most of which was in European Russia, where the average was 1.8 miles for the same area. During the same year the German rail net averaged twenty miles of rail per 100 square miles. Expressed differently, Russia had 3.3 miles of trackage per 10,000 population; whereas Germany had 5.8 miles in the same year.
1. Railroad Plant
Since rock is scarce in Russia, few railroads had beds of crushed rock ballast. In lieu of rook, sand and gravel was widely used.
The prevailing gauge of Russian railways is five feet, as compared to a gauge of four feet eight and one-half inches, which is standard in most other countries. This wider gauge provided more loading space per oar and compensated to some extent for the Russian shortage of rolling stock and the limited capacity of the railway lines.
Marshalling yards, shunting installations, and turnarounds (wyes instead of turntables) covered wide areas because land was cheap. This dispersion was advantageous in the event of air attacks.
Signaling and safety devices, even on the main lines, were primitive. In many cases only a semaphore was used to designate the right-of-way. The Germans observed electrically-operated devices only on the Moscow - Kharkov line, which, incidentally, was the only line with a bed of crushed-rock ballast.
The German invaders found that some of the railway bridges in European Russia were temporary, having been built during World War I. By German standards they were unsafe and most of them could not have supported the trains loaded with heavy tanks, which were in use during the later years of World War II. On several of these bridges the girders, made from sheet metal, had been riveted together.
For unknown reasons there were no double-track bridges. Double- track lines which crossed rivers did so on separate spans spaced 50 to 100 yards apart.
Much of the coal and water of European Russia is unsuitable for use in locomotives without special processing. For instance, at Losovaya, a large rail junction south of Kharkov, the Germans found a large tank of oil at the coaling point in which coal from the Donets area had to be soaked to render it usable. Between Dnepropetrovsk and Stalino the water at each of the eleven watering points had to be treated with different admixtures to prevent the formation of boiler scales.
Along the Russo-Polish border, east of the Bug and Niemen Rivers, the Russians had established a strip of no man's land to deprive an invader of railroad facilities. As a result, the railroads passing through this area were equipped to handle only through-traffic. There were no marshalling yards, shunting installations, detraining points, workshops, or other major facilities. This deficiency proved disadvantageous to the Germans during their advance as well as at the time of their withdrawal.
2. Rolling stock
Russian locomotives were classified by type similarly to those in other countries. In addition, the Russians used a rather complex condenser locomotive, the "Siberian," supposedly of American manufacture, which could cover up to 600 miles without taking on water.
Frequently, wood was used as fuel on secondary lines, especially in the north.
In employing western European locomotives in Russia, the Germans had to remember that in Russia water stations are farther apart than in most other countries since Russian locomotives have a greater water capacity. Throughout the war the Germans converted Russian-gauge freight CATS to normal gauge. The German State Railway developed specially equipped shop trains with lifting devices which permitted the change-over within a few minutes. However, the gauge of the Russian locomotives could not be changed.
3. Personnel
Because of the vital role which the railroads played in the national life, Russian railroad personnel considered themselves a separate class within Russian society. This feeling was expressed not only by pride in their profession but also by a love for their work that led them in times of stress to hide their tools from friend and foe alike in order to be able to go back to work the moment traffic was resumed. Their technical proficiency and willingness to work, even in the employ of the enemy, were remarkable.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by steverodgers801 » 29 Dec 2013 06:49

yes the tracks could be converted, but due to the lesser mileage, stations had to be built from scratch, which required much more effort. The Nazi's had dropped investment in the Riechsbahn which meant the railroads were not ready for the expanded capacity of Russia. The Germans planned to simply seize the Soviet rail system intact, but that did not happen in a sufficient manner.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 29 Dec 2013 08:52

That is certainly the conventional view but there is no logic behind it.
If the Germans had seized a fully functioning 'broad gauge' railway from the Soviets, complete with rolling stock, their own low opinion of it's construction (as described above) surely would have necessitated a large programme to upgrade it. Granted the traffic demand of the Heer would be much smaller than that of a functioning economy, nonetheless the speed at which they would have required troop movements would have forced an upgrade of the lines. German military trains travelled at 55 km/h and you can only run those on decent track.

As it was, the decision to re-gauge was taken before Operation Barbarossa and the Transportchef laid in building materials and men (30,000 railwaymen were held in camps to man the HBDs and the FEDkos - Pottgeisser) and the Eisenbahnpioniere were expanded to 6 Regiments for the invasion of Russia following their poor performance in France. The decision was based on sound reasoning since in 1940 after the invasion of Poland, they had had to upgrade the Polish railway network to meet German standards in the Otto I Programme scheduled to last three years. Halders diary notes before Barbarossa that he expected the Eisenbahnpioniere to convert one major line in each Armee Gruppe at the rate of 20km per day per battalion, leaving the balance of the Pionieres to re-build bridges and other structures. Later he notes that they are exceeding this conversion rate.

The aimed for capacity was 25 trains a day per Armee Gruppe which at 450 tonnes net freight load from a 850 tonnes gross weight train (weight of train itself plus the cargo) provides 11,250 tonnes per day.

So I think the answer is that the German High Command expected the campaign to run like the one in France, it was going to be a short campaign of 6-10 weeks, the Red Army would be destroyed on the frontiers or before Smolensk within 600km of the frontier and the fighting would be supported by the lorries of the Grosstransportraum of the Supply Department under General Wagner. Railways were only an addition to this and their development and use were a problem for the Occupying forces not the Invasion forces.

This is why Gercke fights so hard to get the Grosstransportraum included in the Transport Departments remit and is rebuffed, why he cannot get the locomotive building programme started (it is dropped in favour of more Panzer production) and struggles to get steel allocations and other materials to stockpile in Poland before the attack. His job ends up as delivering the supplies to the depots on the Polish-Soviet border which are then delivered by GTR lorries of the Supply Department up to 600km away. Their responsibility was never supposed to extent so far to the rear.

The key to this argument is replacements and remounts. The principal part of military railway traffic is movement of troops, principally replacements and remounts, supply occupies a relatively small amount of the overall traffic. (A rule of thumb would be a half of all traffic as troop movements, a third as supplies and the balance as railway consumption.) A short campaign did not need railways because they did not envisage needing replacements other than the ones who could march from the frontier. By Smolensk in September the German forces have suffered significant casualties but there is insufficient capacity to bring up further troops because the GTR can only carry supplies and the 25 trains a day (which the Transport Department is not achieving anyway) for each Armee Group can only meet supply demands not provide replacements, remounts, replacement weapons or winter clothing. The lack of railway capacity for a long campaign starts to show from September onwards.

This neatly brings us to the next question.......why were the Soviet railways so bad? Or were they?

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 29 Dec 2013 09:00

Soviet Railways
In the 1950s the Soviet government published the statistics of railway operation during the 1930s but these were met with some skepticism by Western economists who could not see how such a sparse network with such a low level of capital expenditure (low track standard, locomotives of modest power and technology and a limited range of wagons and carriages,) could deliver the levels of freight and passenger movements. They based their calculations on equivalent European and US railways and so doubted the Soviet figures.
However a US economist, Holland Hunter at Haverford College who had studied the Soviet economy since 1939 showed how the Soviet Railways operated in a similar way to a small number of US railway companies who operated an unusual customer profile such as the Pennsylvania in the early 1900s and the St Louis in the 1920s.

Before explaining what made the Soviet railways so unusual it might be an idea to explain how a 'normal' railway works. Western railways such as the German and British ones have a variety of customers with various requirements, urban commuters who need to travel at certain times of day and quickly, shippers who want to move items ranging from one parcel right up to a train load of ore. For this reason, trains are run at a number of different speeds, slow freight trains, medium speed local passenger trains and high speed express trains.

To understand the effect this has, consider a single railway line with all of these different train types on it. Gradually the Express trains will over take the Commuter trains, which will have to pull into a siding to let these trains pass. This means that the Commuter trains proceed more slowly than their speed would indicate. Similarly the slow moving Freight trains have to pull over for both the Express and Commuter trains and so spend a lot of time in sidings.
As the railway increases its capacity and gets busy, so the delays experienced by individual trains increase and even Express trains start to get delayed as the track cannot be cleared in front of them and freight trains spend time running from siding to siding. To deal with this, trains start to be divided by time, freight is banned during the Commuter rush hour but this requires an increase in the number and size of sidings, to give them somewhere to wait. To gain capacity, freight trains need to travel faster, so more powerful locomotives are used but this requires heavier weight rails to deal with the extra power transmitted through them.
In short, running trains at different speeds costs capacity and the greater the speed differential the greater the loss of capacity.
What Holland Hunter realized was that the Soviet system does not work like this. The Soviet view of transport is that resources spent on transport are wasted resources that could have been used on production. The ideal Soviet set up would be a factory next to a blast furnace sited on top of a coal mine but instead they live in a vast country with large distances separating energy from resources from population from agriculture.

So the Soviet approach to transport is to spend the minimum of scarce resources such as steel but to spend sufficient plentiful resources such a labour to make the system work. Also in the Soviet system, the "right" to ship is a privileged and the railway is the allocator of scarce shipping space to meet the overall plan.

The railway is run for maximum capacity, so trains run at ONE speed regardless of whether they are freight or passenger trains. This allows a large number of trains to be on the same line at once and proceed from their point of origin to destination without stopping. This reduces the number of sidings required and other track infrastructure. A second advantage is that this system can be run with locomotives of modest power and a moderate level of technology since none of the locomotives have to race ahead of other ones. In fact a moderate speed is an advantage since a fleet of locomotives can be found as the Soviet Fleet was, on three freight designs and two passenger designs and it eliminates the need for specialist locomotives such as shunters, since all the locomotives can do a variety of jobs. But the real benefit of the Soviet Decapods (10 wheeled locomotive design) is that without a need for high power they can be run on very light weight rails and even if bedded on sand and nailed to pine sleepers that rot quickly, these use far less of scarce steel resources but can be kept going with regular maintenance provided by a large (and cheap) work force. Again using a large work force allows 7 day - 24 hour operation of the lines which makes up for their slow speed compared with European and US practice.

In fact in terms of efficient use of resources the slightly old fashioned and lightweight Soviet railway carried enormous amounts of freight and passengers with minimal inputs.

But this was not understood until the mid 1950s.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 29 Dec 2013 09:03

Wartime experience
When war came in June 1941, the NKPS faced a number of problems. The annexation of eastern Poland (Western Ukraine and Belorussia) in 1939 and Lithuania in 1940 bought a significant amount of standard gauge line and rolling stock into Soviet possession and the decision to re-gauge or not, was only taken in the Spring of 1941 and conversion was not proceeded with rapidly since there was sufficient capacity to meet peacetime needs and was not completed by the start of the offensive. This left a 300km depth behind the new border with a reduced mobilisation capacity due to the need to trans-ship cargoes at the old border and the poor nature of the Polish railway. This did help to preserve Soviet broad gauge locomotives and rolling stock as little was forward with the troops and it was able to escape the later German advance. The NKPS understood the need to deny the enemy railway rolling stock and even locomotives cut off in the Crimea were evacuated by driving them into floating docks that were then towed away to Soviet ports although at least one was sunk along the way.

The number of Soviet locomotives that were captured, damaged or destroyed is a thorny question as there are several estimates around from the German Heer (had captured a remarkably modest 2,237 rail cars and 231 locomotives from the Soviets as of 1.11.1941 and by 1.1.1943 1,338 locos and 2,315 carriages and 81,817 wagons captured) the Luftwaffe (25% captured or destroyed with another 30% lost to air attack - probably over claimed), Soviet Reparation Claims post-war of 15,000 locomotives and over 400,000 wagons damaged. But the most accurate number comes from Soviet economic statements (Voznesenskii 1947) that around 15% of locomotives and 20% of freight cars were lost by 1.1.1943 while 40% of the track had been lost to the occupied territories. With around 28,000 locomotive and 800,000 wagons in 1941, losses were around 4,000 locomotives and 160,000 wagons which brought the fleet down to the 1938 level. But with a reduced economy and reduced track length there was plenty of rolling stock available and the Soviets switched the production to other war work. Around 2,000 Lend Lease locomotives arrived in 1944 but these were used to replace locomotives in heavy repair which were then cannibalised for spare parts so did not increase the fleet. These numbers seem plausible in light of known Soviet post-war railway statistics. With so much rolling stock now running on the eastern railway companies lines, the evacuation of war industry to the Urals was accomplished with disruption but they were able to find the 915,000 wagon loads required although the turnaround time rose steeply as factories were not immediately able to unload at their destination. Likewise there was plenty of capacity for military use in the 2nd period of the war.

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