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DBAG Baureihe 481/482
Berlin- Bahnhof Westkreuz- Richtung Nord- S-Bahn Berlin DBAG-Baureihe 481 10.8.2009.jpg
DBAG Class 481 at Berlin Westkreuz station
ManufacturerAdtranz (later Bombardier Hennigsdorf),
DWA/Bombardier Halle
Number built500 quarter trains
Operator(s)Deutsche Bahn AG
Berlin S-Bahn
Train length36.8 m (120 ft 9 in)
Width3,000 mm (9 ft 10 in) (outer frame)
3,140 mm (10 ft 4 in) (with safety sills)
Height3,585 mm (11 ft 9.1 in)
Floor height1,000 mm (39.37 in)
Maximum speed100 km/h (62 mph) (lowered to 80 km/h (50 mph) by regulator)
Weight59 t (58 long tons; 65 short tons)
Traction system3-level GTO-VVVF
Traction motors3-phase AC induction motor (AEG DKABZ 2806-4B)
Power output594 kW (797 hp)
Acceleration1.0 m/s2 (3.3 ft/s2)
Deceleration1.3 m/s2 (4.3 ft/s2)
Electric system(s)750 DC third rail
Current collector(s)Contact shoe
UIC classificationBo'2'+Bo'Bo'
Safety system(s)mechanical train stop, ZBS Eurobalises (after 2015)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge

The DBAG Class 481/482 is an electric multiple unit train for the Berlin S-Bahn. The class 481 was designed to replace the aging rail cars after the German reunification in 1990. The first mock-up models were presented in 1993 with the first rollout on 22 January 1996.


In 1990 most of the rail cars were still composed of mostly Class 475, 476 and 477 vehicles from before World War II. The average age was about 40 years at the time. Both the West Berlin and East Berlin S-Bahn operators had already started to replace their aging fleet with Class 480 (West) and Class 485 (East). The German reunification prompted a unification of the operators leading also to a requirement of a common operation scheme for the whole of Berlin. When the last of the 500 rail cars had been delivered, the theoretical 55 years average age shrunk to merely 6 years in 2004.

After some teething problems the reliability settled on a high level. A number of components had to be replaced with some of higher quality (especially on the doors) in the meantime. About a decade after delivery, the train type experienced a notable technical accident on 1 May 2009 when a wheel broke at station Kaulsdorf. An investigation showed that the wheels were built too lightly and the brakes were not properly dimensioned according to state of the art - this led to a plan to replace all wheel sets on all trains of this type. The operator reconstructed a repair shop to do it but the replacement works were running too slow so that inspection intervals were run over regularly (where intervals had been shortened due to the wheel problem). When the acceptable margin was overrun as well, the federal regulator dropped the allowance for operation for 100 rail cars which led to serious transport problems in Berlin rapid transit in 2010. Further problems came up at the height of winter 2011 leading again into transport problems requiring further reconstruction of motors and sanding equipment.

Due to the problems, the old S-Bahn train types had to be reconditioned for further operation. Since 2011 the Berlin S-Bahn network switches to a modern train safety system, the ZBS train control being based on Eurobalises. Only this Class 481 will be equipped with the corresponding train-borne safety equipment with the installations to be complete for all 500 quarter trains until the end of 2016.[1] Originally it was planned that this train type will be the only train type running on the Berlin S-Bahn network after 2017. Due to a number of setbacks in the ordering process for the new Class 483 and 484 and a growing population in the area (rising by about half a million residents) the old train types (Class 480 and Class 485) will continue to run until 2023.

Technical details


Each 481/482 unit is formed of two cars - one 481 car with driving cab, and one 482 car without a cab, connected by a walkthrough gangway. Three units (501/601 – 503/603) consist of four cars connected by three gangways. The minimum train length is therefore a half-train with 4 cars (Kurzzug) formed 481-482-482-481, with the longest train length being 8 cars in total (Vollzug). 6 car trains are also run, namely on S 25, S 26, S 41, S 42, S 47 and S 85.

Seating is 2 + 2, with an open area at one end to accommodate bicycles and wheelchairs.

Regenerative brakes are fitted, leading to an average electricity saving of 30 percent over the S-Bahn network. Three of the four bogies in each 2 car unit are powered. In the interior, mainly clean and vandal- resistant fabrics were used.

Due to their characteristic howling start-up noise, which is typical for three-phase AC motors with pulsed voltage control, these vehicles are occasionally also called "circular saws", "hoe buoys" or "flying alarms". The loud start-up and brake noise has led to many complaints.


Depot Units
Berlin-Wannsee (BWSS1): 001–033, 035–042, 044–350, 501/601–503/603
Berlin-Grünau (BGAS1): 481/482 034, 043, 351–494

The trains from the Grünau and Wannsee depots are pooled and so it is common to see trains formed of units from both Grünau and Wannsee.


The DBAG 481 series can operate on all lines of the Berlin S-Bahn. The lines S1, S2, S25, S3, S5, S7, S75 and S9 are exclusively operated by the 481. Often the 481 also operates on the Ringbahn S41 and S42, and at the weekends is the only type used on the Ringbahn. The same is true for the S47.

See also


  1. ^ "Zugbeeinflussungssystem für die Berliner S-Bahn (ZBS)" (PDF). Deutsche Bahn. 25 April 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 June 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016.