Photos BVG / Chriistopher Land.
A long chapter in vehicle history will soon come to an end at the Berlin subway. When the last cars have reached the prescribed mileage of 960,000 kilometers again, the A3L71 series will retire from active service after around 50 years. The “hardest working” cars will then have completed a total mileage of around 3.8 million kilometers. During a special trip in a decorated train, fans of this series could symbolically say goodbye on Sunday, October 17, 2021.
Photos BVG / Chriistopher Land, BVG Archive.
Of the 138 cars originally produced between 1971 and 1973, ten are currently still in service with passengers. They are the last Berlin subways whose drive was still equipped with a so-called switchgear control by the manufacturer. With its sibling models from the 1960s, this type of vehicle shaped the image on the small-profile lines U1 to U4 for decades. With the end of delivery in 1973, the last pre-war trains disappeared from the network.
Photos of the BVG archive.
Please only smoke in the S-car
The L in the type designation stands for light metal construction. Thanks to the aluminum construction, the trains were significantly lighter than their steel predecessors. The motorization could be smaller and more energy-efficient.
In other respects the “newcomers” were less revolutionary. Like the previous models, each double multiple unit consisted of a so-called S-car (control car) and a K-car (compressor car). What was of technical importance to the underground train operator was important to the passengers for a different reason. The rule still applied until the end of the 1970s: the K-Wagen is reserved for non-smokers. Smoking is allowed in the S-car.
The A3L71 was followed by several related successor models until the 1990s. It wasn’t until years after the fall of the Berlin Wall that considerations began to develop a completely new generation of trains. In 1999, the first prototypes of the HK series rolled over the Berlin rails in a small profile and heralded the gradual end of service for the older A3 types.
From 2008 onwards, part of the A3L71 fleet was again given a general overhaul. Other vehicles had to be taken out of service years ago because the aluminum was so badly affected by corrosion that repairs would not have been technically or economically sensible. Now the rest of the fleet has finally reached the end of its life. Replacement has long been provided. The A3L71 trains have been gradually being phased out for a number of years and are being replaced by the new IK trains on the small-profile lines as planned. And the next generation of Berlin subways is already in the works. The BVG and the passengers are looking forward to the JK series, which is built by the manufacturer Stadler. A life-size model can already be seen in the German Museum of Technology.
Eight cars remain
Eight cars from the A3L71 series will remain with the BVG. They become or are already part of the work fleet for in-house operations. For a number of years now, four wagons have been used as auxiliary equipment trains for small-profile work. Two cars are used as brush and busbar lubrication trains and are assigned two more cars, as the so-called “traction vehicle” can only be used as a four-car train.
Press release BVG