As a result of the in 1948 introduced Währungsreform and the Marshall aid, the German industry had given a positive impulse and was developing itself at a very high pace. The standards of living increased every year, because of that there was need not only from business travelers but also from the "normal" traveller for a comfortable and consistent express train network.
But also two other developments were important for the DB to decide setting up a new network of express trains. Cars were more and more used by ordinary people and were going to be a normal good for most people, many people could travel cheap by car, but also flying was advanced. Firstly on transatlantic routes and later also on the shorter European routes. These developments were reason for the DB to came with an answer on these developments in the form of an exclusive express train network. The DB had to position this network as a produkt with characteristics as speed, comfort and exclusivity.
On 20 May 1951 the new express train network went officially in service. Officially the network was named: "Netz der leichten Fernschnellzüge", the opposite of the slow and heavy internationale trains. They focused firstly on business travelers and offered good connections between the major West-German cities and a couple of cities abroad. The new trains were indicated as F-trains (with the F of Fernverbindung).
|F 164 Rheingold-Express in Keulen Hbf, 20 mei 1951 | Photo: Helmut Säuberlich|
The F-train network was more or less the successor of the pre war FD trains. Only the relations were now not anymore focused on Berlin but were now north-south focused. The trains which were in service in the F-train network consisted of coaches (indicated as F-trains) and trainsets (indicated as Ft-trains). The coaches and trainsets were painted in a blue color to distinguish the trains from the other trains. Because of the color the network was soon called "Blaues F-zug Netz".
In the first years the F-trains consisted of 2st class trainsets or pulled trains with steam locomotives. These trains had mostly 3,4 or 5 coaches. The pulled trains had 2st and 3st class compartments. Only international F-trains had also 1st class coaches (for example the "Rheingold-Express"). From 1956 when the 1st and 2st class became the new 1st class and the 3st class changed to 2st class, the trainsets had only 1st class and the other F-trains had only 1st and 2st class. The trains were provided with dining coaches and compartments were one could work with some facilities like a secretary. Some trains had also sleeping coaches.
The rolling stock consisted of pre war coaches, mainly of the types Bauart 28, 35 and skirted coaches. Also a couple of pre war Rheingold coaches and the Henschel Wegmann zug was used in the F-trains. The coaches were rebuild in Belgian workshops because the German workshop had no more capacity due to the repair works of rolling stock. The coaches were painted in a blue color (RAL 5011) and got the letters "DB" on both sides. Coaches for international F-trains got the inscription "Deutsche Bundebahn" on both sides. In principal the DB wanted in each F-train a dining coach, but economically it was not feasible to operate on each route a dining coach. Therefore some coaches Bauart 1928 were rebuild to so-called "halbspeisewagen" ABR4ü. New express train coaches came into service in 1953. This were the new 26,4 meter express train coaches. The first coaches were of type A4ümg-54, 65 of these first class coaches were special build for services in F-trains.
As locomotives were mainly steam locomotives used of class BR 01, BR 01.10, BR 03, BR 03.10 and BR 05, as well as some electrical locomotives of class E 17 and E 18. Also the new diesel locomotives V 200 were used in the F-train network.
Besides pulled trains also trainsets were in service in the network. The DB made use of the old SVT trainsets from epoch II (VT 04, VT 06.1/VT 06.5 and VT 07.5 and new special made trainsets VT 08.5 and VT 10.5. The trainsets from epoch II were painted in the blue color and the new trainsets VT 08.5 got a red color. The trainsets had only the second class, and after the abandoning of the third class only the 1st class.
The dining coaches had the color red. The dining coaches were owned and operated by the DSG. Until 1955 the DSG was not allowed to operated dining coaches in international trains, so in the international F-trains were ISG/CIWL dining coaches in service.
In the middle of the sixties you could distinguish two types of F-trains. The first was short, between 2,3 and 5 coaches long. They consisted of 1st class coaches together with a dining coach mostly located in the middle of the train. These F-trains were mostly running between the major German cities in West-Germany. The trains were unregulary scheduled, so not each hour or each two hours a train like in the InterCity network later.
The second type of F-train was the internationale long-distance train. This train had also second class coaches and had also sleeping coaches. The second class coaches were mostly green colored. (See also the 26,4 meter express train coaches). In these trains were also some "Kurswagens" of other railway companies. The trains had many times other indications and trainnumbers abroad. After 1971 when the F-train network disappeared and the InterCity network started many international F-trains got the D-train status.
Both F-train categories were mostly pulled by a fast locomotive like a V 200 (diesel), E 10 (electrical) or BR 01 (steam).
A special F-train was train F 9/10 "Rheingold" which was in service on the relation Amsterdam/Hoek van Holland - Utrecht - Emmerich - Keulen - Mainz - Karlsruhe - Basel SBB. This F-train had from 1951 until 26 May 1962 normal skirted coaches 1, 2 (and until 1956 3) class. But inspired by the pre war Rheingold, the Deutsche Bundesbahn wanted for this trains also special rolling stock. On 27 May 1962 the Rheingold with special coaches went into service. Later F 21/22 "Rheinpfeil" was also provided with these special coaches.
After the introduction of the international TEE network in the summer timetable of 1957 a couple of F-trains got the TEE status.
The F-trains were meant as high graded long-distance trains in Western-Germany. Seat reservation was not obligatory. But to prevent that the trains had to much forenses travelers which used the trains only for semi short distances the DB came up with the following.
Of course the trains stopped only in a few cities. Besides this everyone had to pay an extra fee for these trains, and this fee was dependent of the distance one had to travel. Later there was a fixed fee, so it was more economical to use the F-train on long-distances than for short distances.
The extra fee for F-trains was high for that time, in the sixties the fee was 4 DM, for comparison the fee for D-trains was 2 DM. One kilometer was 8 pfennig in second class and 12 pfennig in first class.