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.
User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 29 Dec 2013 09:05

To illustrate the shrinking of the overall size of the Soviet economy, the growth of the war economy and the shrinking of rail demand resulting from the loss of the Western territories here are some of the tables from Hunter:
rail01.jpg
rail02.jpg
rail03.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 29 Dec 2013 09:10

I have been looking at the standard of construction of the Soviet railway network since this was a major factor in the German decision to not only change the gauge of the network after the invasion but also to up grade it.

The strength of railway track is determined by the following factors:
1) weight of rails
2) density of sleepers and their fixtures
3) train speeds
4) amount and type of ballast
5) amount of traffic and the maintenance effort

The Soviet rail network had rail of the varying weight;

In 1913
10% track was 38 kg/m or greater
40% track was 33 kg/m
50% track was less than 33 kg/m

In 1941
2% track was 43 kg/m Class 1a
16% track was 38 kg/m Class II
82% track was under 38 kg/m (in 1930 39% was 33 kg/m) Class IIIa or IV

Class Ia 43 kg/m
Class II 38 kg/m
Class IIIa 33 kg/m
Class IV less than 33 kg/m

Most commentators make the point that German rails were ALL 49 kg/m. While this looks a spectacular difference, it has to be remembered that Light Railways in Britain ran with tracks as low as 15 kg/m. But it is a bit of a red herring as what you really need to understand is Track STRENGTH and weight of the rails is only one factor in this as detailed at the top of this post. For instance German railwaymen aimed for a typical speed of 40km/h while Soviet trains ran at 23km/h and the axle load that a certain weight of rail can support is related to the speed travelled. For modern trains:
60 kg/m rail; axle load 23 t = max speed 100 km/h
60 kg/m rail; axle load 25 t = max speed 80 km/h
as you can see from this example the speed travelled has a greater effect than the axle loading - a 20% increase in speed reduces axle loading by 8%. Another effect is that as axle loading increases the damage to the track increase exponentially. The rule of thumb is that a doubling of gross axle weight rating results in 16 times rail damage.

With a large number of variables, the calculations are complex but increasing speed or axle loading takes an increasing strength of rail and that is a combination of rail weight, sleeper density and type, ballast type. A good illustration of this is the US railways which used the heaviest weight of rails in the world up to 56 kg/m by 1940 but still suffered a significant amount of rail wear and damage, even though the traffic density was quite low. The reason for this was the powerful US locomotives and large wheels and the power transmitted to the rails coupled with the hammer blow effect of the counter weights on the wheels resulted in significant damage.

Modern rail profile choices for metre gauge tracks:

Speed km/h............120.........100........80...........6 0
axle load t..............16...........20.........30......... ..16
rail weight kg/m.......60..........>40........68..........>30

you can see from this the extra weight of rail needed to carry higher axle loads or higher speeds. Looking at column 1 and 4, if you double the speed you have to double the weight of the rail. Similarly looking at column 3 and 4 a doubling in axle load and a 30% increase in speeds also requires a more than doubling of weight of rail. Column 2 shows modest changes over column 4 but again rail weight needs to increase by 25%.

pugsville
Member
Posts: 691
Joined: 17 Aug 2011 04:40

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by pugsville » 29 Dec 2013 15:25

very interesting, any more details.stuff people want to share? I really find this stuff very very interesting.

User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 30 Dec 2013 06:54

Super trunk lining
In von Bork's description of the Russian railways in FMS T8 he says that the Soviets only had one decent railway which was the line running between Moscow and Kharkov.

What he is describing is "Super Trunk Lining" (which is a German term) but describes when a high capacity railway is given over to a single cargo type in an effort to gain maximum capacity.

So in the early 1930's, the Soviets had repaired the Tsar's railway network from the damage of the Revolution and the Civil War and the industrialisation of the 5 Year Plans was starting. There were 'pockets' of demand, obviously the main industrial areas of the Donetz, around Moscow, the Urals, etc. This led to the transport crisis of 1933 were 'bottlenecks' appeared and greatly disrupted traffic. This was a direct effect of the 'gigantomania' of the industrialisation plan.

One example is the coal required by Leningrad and Moscow. Leningrad imported coal for domestic heating and industry from Great Britain and Poland by ship, so there was a move to switch this supply to the Donetz coal as the the fields were expanded.

So two railway tracks that run from the Donetz up to Moscow were designated Super Trunk Lines and were upgraded largely to haul this traffic. (Moscow - Kursk - Orel - Kharkov)(Rostov - Voronezh - Ryazan - Moscow). Both were double tracked by 1917. This still left a shortage of capacity so a further line was chosen. The "Moscow - Donbass Trunk Line" was built using sections of existing line, upgraded, double tracked and then joined up and ran between the two lines mentioned above. It was a huge project and the team who had just finished the Trans Siberian Line upgrade were chosen to do it. The work lasted from 1934 until 1939 and further extensions were added in 1942.

The result of this policy is that the Soviet railways on a map look like a network, fairly evenly spread around the country but this is deceiving. The real situation is that you have areas of 'localisation' - heavy regional concentrations of heavy rail use (ie the Donbass, Urals, Moscow, etc) linked by Super Trunk Lines. Meanwhile the general economy, hauling mail and crates of chickens, trundles around at a slow pace. 90% of the track carried only 66% of the freight - so a small number of trunk lines (the 10% of the network) carried 33% of the freight - over 3 times the normal traffic level.

While the Soviet railways operated in a different fashion to the rest of Europe there seems to have been little information or understanding of this. The German Railway Yearbook of 1937 quoted in Kreidler has statistics for every railway in Europe except on the line for the USSR it says "little known about this railway". However there was some knowledge and published material in the USA, in 1928 the Soviet Information Bureau published a book that included Soviet railway achievements.Soviet History Archive and in 1930 a commission of US railway experts went out to the Soviet Union to give technical advice as part of the US help with the industrialisation project of the First 5 Year Plan. In the FMS series von Bork (a German Transport General) notes that in 1941 they had little information other than that which they could see on the border of broad gauge transfer stations and the little that was remembered from 1917-1919. But when von Bork looked over the border he is referring to the 'eastern' part of Poland - not the USSR.

The Polish Gap
Source is Foreign Military Studies P-048 Transportation Network. By General der Infanterie Max Bork and Generalmajor Karl-Theodor Koerner; 56 pp, 10 maps; 1950. A report on railroads and highways in Poland, East Prussia, and other Baltic areas.

In 1939 when Germany invaded Poland they had a good idea of the state of Polish Railways. There was a good network in the country to the west of the Vistula reflecting the urban population and industry and a lesser capacity just over the river but once you got into the east of the country which was largely agricultural, the railway network was very sparse. This was partly a strategic decision by the Polish Government to forestall a Soviet invasion by denying it transport links and partly a reflection of the population/economic layout of the country. For the invasion, the Germans reckoned on 460 trains a day (both ways) crossing the border from Germany with 7 railway lines of up to 72 trains a day. (72 trains a day is one train passing in each direction every 20 minutes if running 24 hours or one every 10 minutes if running in daylight.) But across Western Poland this dropped to 180 trains a day and was only 120 trains a day at the Vistula. In the East it was around 50 trains a day on minor lines.

Once the campaign was over the German set about a 3 year plan (Otto I) to upgrade the entire Polish network and to bring it up to German standards and to allow German armies to mass on the border. They divided the country into what was termed "Congress Poland" - the old German provinces of the West Prussia and Warthegau were returned to the Reich, the Government General formed Congress Poland (referring to the Congress of Vienna in 1815.) and was set up as a semi independent state in the centre of the country and the eastern provinces given to Poland in 1919 went to the USSR as the provinces of West Ukraine and Western Belorussia. In railway terms, the best part of the railway network went to the Reich, the middle part was set up as a new company, the Ostbahn answering to Hans Frank, the Governor of the Government General (and the income as well) but most of the poor eastern section ended up in Soviet hands.

But of course you have seen the problem, between the high capacity German network and the high capacity Soviet network from Brest Litovsk eastwards, there is a band of really poor railways, only half of which was in German hands and which organisationally was poorly set-up. The Germans would spend from 1940 - 1944 trying to bridge this gap.

User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 30 Dec 2013 06:57

The work on the Polish railways proceeded slowly during 1940, neither the DRB or the Ostbahn having any access to steel allocations vital for railway construction and repair. As Tooze has explained in his book, the currency with the Third Reich was steel allocation and that depended on political influence, finance of which the DRB had plenty was of no use and the Government General was politically weak despite Frank's position as Justice Minister. So in the Autumn of 1940 after the failure of Operation Sealion when the Army's gaze turned towards Russia, there were few transport links leading to the proposed front line. Gen Gerecke head of the Wehrmacht's Transport Command (OKH/OKW) used his influence with the 4 Year Plan to gain steel allocations from the Army's stocks and manpower by releasing railway workers from the Army. This allowed a faster Otto II to complete 7 trunk lines and railheads in Eastern Poland on the new Reich-Soviet border. Otto II required 600,000 tons of steel and 150,000 workers and was put under the command of the DRB which completed the project early and did some additional work as well by April 1941.

But what had the Soviets being doing on their side of the border in the old Eastern Poland?

The Soviet Union took over Eastern Poland in October 1939 and then annexed the Baltic States under the agreement with Germany in 1940. In all cases, they took over a working railway, with functioning track, a workforce and rolling stock. This was particularly true in Poland whereas the German captured track in the West of Poland but no rolling stock and a heavily damaged system and some rolling stock in Central Poland, hte Soviets got an intact (albeit poor one) complete system relatively untouched by war. The Estonian and Latvian railways were a broad or narrow gauge while the Lithuanian one was a mix of principally standard and broad/narrow gauges. But with everything functioning well there was little incentive to change anything so it was not until the Spring of 1941 that the decision was taken to convert everything to broad gauge. According to "Railway Workers of the GPW" little work was done on conversion and some work was done in Soviet Poland on converting main lines to broad gauge (to carry the German economic traffic) and unloading areas for mobilisation. But the Red Army complained that they had a capacity drop at the old USSR border and the new territories for mobilisation.

The "Polish Gap" remained for an advancing German Army despite their efforts on their side of the border.

GregSingh
Member
Posts: 2747
Joined: 21 Jun 2012 01:11
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 30 Dec 2013 09:19

The statement "..between the high capacity German network and the high capacity Soviet network from Brest Litovsk eastwards.." does not have much sense to me. :(

Polish areas lost to Soviets in 1939 had the poorest network, that I can understand. So how exactly the same area east from Brest Litovsk suddenly become "high capacity Soviet network" ? Did they fixed it in 2 years?

When I look at Fahrplane, I can clearly see the gap was in The White Russia and Ukraine, not in GG.
There is no difference in network coverage between west and east from Vistula river in GG.

"The Polish Gap" concept is a bit confusing... Do they mean areas between German-Soviet border up to June 1941 and Polish-Soviet border up to September 1939? If so, where is Poland in all this?

Also I don't understand the statement that network in GG was not in "German hands". In which hands was it? :D
If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.

User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 30 Dec 2013 21:38

I think there are two questions here, so lets deal with the first one - the Polish Gap. I am planning to post a series of maps showing its development.

In short it is the area of 1939 Poland east of the Vistula.

In 1939 when the German invade, they can bring 7 railway lines of 72 trains a day each way to the border for over 500 trains a day. Western Poland can handle 180 trains a day. By the time you reach the Vistula it has fallen to 120 trains a day and in the Eastern Provinces of Poland under 50 trains a day. The Otto II programme of April 1941 addresses the gap in the Government General in part but further development is needed up to 1944.

The Polish Eastern Provinces held by the Soviets have little development and so represent a band of even lower capacity which has to be crossed in June 1941 by the railway troops. This is the area up to the old Soviet-Polish border of 1939.

Can you post the details of " Fahrplane, " or give us a link or reference please.

Sorry should have been "German railwaymen's hands", ie the Ostbahn not the DRB

User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 31 Dec 2013 08:31

Your second question is what is the capacity of the Soviet railway network?
We have to draw a distinction here between what the Germans thought it was and what the Soviets actually achieved because they are quite different.

The first thing that you have to understand is that there are two kinds of railway in the world, the American and the European. In America they have a vast network and they run very large trains at a modest speed over long distances. In Europe they run small trains at high speeds over short distances. The Soviet Union was an American style railway but with significant differences. It ran smaller trains than in the USA but it ran them slower which allowed it to have a poor track infrastructure and it ran more of them so that the track utilisation was higher than in the US.

The largest railway in the world was that of the United States and the second largest was the Soviet Unions in 1940.

The USA has in 1937: 661,900 km of track and operates 47,555 locomotives, 1,776,428 wagons, 40,949 carriages and has 958,280 employees.

The NKPS has in 1940 (including Poland and the Baltic): 106,102 km of track and it operates 28,000 locomotives, 715,000 wagons, 32,300 carriages and has 2,657,300 employees. As given in the table above the Soviet freight traffic was 4.2 million tonne km which was less than the US but the NKPS runs the network with less motive power and fewer cars but it uses a lot more staff which reflects the lack of technology of the network.

The DRB in 1938 has: 64,000 km of track and it operates 25,209 locomotives, 690,000 wagons, 68,900 carriages with 706,546 employees. So it has around the same amount of rolling stock as the NKPS but uses less people to do this. It carries 106,200 tonne km of freight but more passengers (2 million) than the NKPS (1.2 million in 1938)

The difference is that (paraphrase) "in 1928, the DRB carries 1.2 million tonnes km per km of track and the NKPS about the same. But in 1937 the DRB has grown this figure by 7% while the NKPS has gown the freight traffic four fold to 4.2 million tonne km per km of track." E.A. Rees Stalinism and Soviet Rail Transport 1928-1941

So this rather ramshackled old fashioned railway using lots of labour was hauling huge amounts of freight, long distances albeit it at a very slow speed of around 23 km/h.

You can read further about Soviet Railways at:
Holland Hunter: Soviet Transport Policy - 1957
E.A. Rees: Stalinism and Soviet Rail Transport 1928-1941 -1998
http://papers.nber.org/books/will59-1 Williams Soviet Rail Transportation A Comparison with the USA.
http://library2.usask.ca/USSRConst/gallery/railways Soviet Construction
https://archive.org/details/unifiedtransport032587mbp Tverskoi Unified Transport in the USSR - 1935

User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 31 Dec 2013 10:34

How much of this traffic was in the Ukraine and Belorussia. Garbutt P E: The Russian Railways quotes a figure of 40% for the territory occupied by the Germans but Williams puts this higher at around 50%. Both these figures tie in with the economic figures (in billions of rubles (1926) figures) in the first table at the top of the page. A lot of this economic activity was concentrated in the Donbass but even so this area was capable was much higher traffic than the Germans gave it credit for. It probably carried traffic of around 2 million tonne km which was about double what the home German system carried.

That is the crux of my argument, the Germans did not appreciate the working methodology of the Soviet railways so tried to change it into a German style railway, expending a lot of effort and materials to do so all the while suffering from a lack of transport capacity. They were led to this conclusion by the state of the Polish eastern railways and other factors.

User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 31 Dec 2013 11:19

This is the 1943 Atlas of Railways of USSR and I have marked on it the list of Trunk lines and Super Trunk Lines that I have. Also the blue lines show the principal German rail lines during their occupation and the green line shows the extent of their conquest in 1.1.1943.

You can see the 3 Super TRunk lines running from the Donbass to Moscow, the Donbass system linking Krivi Rog iron ore mines with the smelting works around Stalino and Rostov and the Moscow bypass railway linking Leningrad with the Donbass coal fields. Similarly there are the three lines linking the Urals with Moscow and the Donbass, the Urals system linking the coal and ore fields there with the factories and the Siberian routes including the Trans-Sib railway which links Siberian grain area with the Caucaus cotton growing area.
A Scheme USSR Railways small.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

GregSingh
Member
Posts: 2747
Joined: 21 Jun 2012 01:11
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 01 Jan 2014 04:55

Happy New Year!
Thanks for your answers.

The "Fahrpläne" I was referring to was Übersichtskarte zum Taschenfahrplan der Generaldirektion der Ostbahn which included Fahrpläne Nr.530-535h.

As I mentioned earlier, I can't really see much difference in network coverage between east and west of Vistula river in central Poland (excluding west part - incorporated into Reich and east of Bug river - incorporated into Soviet Union).
Perhaps drop from 120 trains to 50 during Polish Campaign you mentioned was caused by Warsaw being in Polish hands far too longer than anticipated and problems with other Vistula bridges because of military actions? It seems that until end of September 1939 only way to get any trains into east of Vistula was from East Prussia. To me it's a better explanation of the fact rather than poor network east of Vistula.

Further on Polish Gap issue, I dig out some data from Petit Annuaire Statistique de la Republique Polonaise 1939.
In 1937 Poland had: 20,000 km of track and it operated 5,300 locomotives, 153,000 wagons, 10,500 carriages with 198,000 employees.
In comparison to German data you provided we have ratios: 3/1, 4.7/1, 4.5/1, 6.5/1 and 3.5/1
Ratios for carried passengers and freight were 8.5/1 and 6.8/1
So it seems Polish Railways were under-stocked, particularly in carriages, which clearly corresponded into low numbers of carried passengers. It could be easily other way around - there were not too many people eager to travel, so no need to increase number of carriages... :D
Lower number of carried passengers and freight per existing stock was also visible in Poland.

I have also numbers for density of network in various parts of Poland in 1937-38.
In Western parts: 10-18km/100km2 of the area.
In Central parts: 4-6km/100km2
In Eastern parts: 2.9-5.6km/100km2
It seems that Eastern parts varied a lot, Western White Russia was the worst with 2.9-3.4, North-East a bit better with 3.1-3.8, Western Ukraine similar and in some cases even better than Central Poland with numbers 4.5-5.6
I wonder if that was one of the reasons why parts of Western Ukraine were incorporated into Generalgouvernement after mid 1941...
If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.

User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 01 Jan 2014 14:28

Ostbahn _karte_jpeg.jpg
I think this map of the Ostbahn area in November 1942 that you are referring to which comes from http://www.dumjahn.de/dumjahn/0012215.html which has this to say about the map:
The first schedule of the Eastern Railway from December 1939 fulfilled only urgent needs of the German administration and rush hour, and took no account of requirements of the Polish population. In detail this is at Wenzel / Stockklausner »Locomotives go to war", volume 3, pages 16 and onwards. However, the situation changed rapidly and with the summer timetable 1940, there were a number of improvements and restructuring and alignment of remote connections to the traffic centers of Berlin and Vienna in the Reich or Warsaw and Krakow in the General Government. The preference for the routes Berlin - Poznan - Warsaw, Berlin - Wroclaw - Katowice - Krakow, Vienna - Wroclaw - Poznan (with connecting Warsaw) - Königsberg and Vienna - Or mountain - Krakow prove this. The 22 June 1941 with the invasion of the Soviet Union has merely made things worse, because the already predetermined lines continued to gain importance: Berlin - Warsaw - Brest - Smolensk and Vienna - Krakow - Lviv Kharkov and Kiev.

This Road Map of 2 November 1942 falls in a period in which the traffic had consolidated and the area of ​​Lviv, ie, East Galicia, and also the North Bukovina were added to the General Government and the railways of the Eastern Railroad have been incorporated. The Eastern Railway, reaching its greatest extent by 6513 km Normalpurlinien (of 1746 two or multiple track) and 627 km of narrow gauge lines. The relatively low proportion of double-track routes can imagine but also the operational difficulties, facing a war operation with fallweisem rush hour traffic to passenger.

The original features on the overview map is no boundary for the traffic area of ​​the Eastern Railway, which has been added for the sake of clarity in emphasis. Finally had the Eastern Railway 16 transitions to the DR network, three to the Slovak railways, three to Hungary, one in Romania (with the exception of the border with Kuty in Bukovina, which consisted of a corridor traffic only short-term) and 10 to the Reich Transport Directorates of the East.
Of note is the statement that the Ostbahn has 16 routes with the DRB but only 10 to the GVD Osten.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 01 Jan 2014 14:43

To start with, here is the Through Transport Route Map for Germany:
P-048 Appendix 9 Thru Transport Routes - very small.jpg
Comments from Mueller Hillebrand and von Bork which were endorses by Halder
P-048 page 11.jpg
P-048 page 12.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 01 Jan 2014 17:23

Polish Traffic Area 1939 before the Invasion
P-048 Appendix 1 Poland Railway Network - text update.jpg
A maximum Germany to Poland capacity of 440 trains daily was faced by a Polish forwarding capacity of 180 trains daily in each direction........However this total capacity of the Polish railways of 180 trains daily in forwarding or transit traffic on the whole only extended only as far as the Vistula: in the area east of this river the network became considerably lower and its total capacity dropped to 120 trains daily in the its most eastward extensions.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
Der Alte Fritz
Member
Posts: 1977
Joined: 13 Dec 2007 21:43
Location: Kent United Kingdom

Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 01 Jan 2014 19:22

Political changes in Poland
P-048 Appendix 1a Poland Political Borders.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Return to “Economy”