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Baureihe (Class) 716 is Deutsche Bahn's highest-performance class of snow blowers. Made partly by Beilhack, a company whose name has almost become a synonym for snow-clearing equipment, partly by then-Deutsche Bundesbahn's Meiningen repair facility, they were acquired in 1994 to clear the recently-opened Hanover-Würzburg high-speed line.

Two 716s exist. During winter, one each is stationed at Brunswick resp. Fulda; they spend their off-duty season at Fulda. Besides being very impressive machines, their most interesting feature is probably that the actual snow blower is mounted atop a pivot bearing and can be slewed by 180 degrees; this way the machine can clear track in both directions without having to be turned around at a station. It's also quite complex to operate a 716 as the distance between the both snow intake rotors, the height of both side ploughs, the orientation of both exhaust shafts and several other parameters can be adjusted individually for maximum clearing efficiency.

Technical fact sheet:

  • Concept: B'B' layout (two two-axle bogies, all axles driven); two identical 12-cylinder diesel engines power the snow blower and the drivetrain through fluid transmissions and articulated shafts
  • Power: 2x605 kW
  • Top speed: 120 km/h maximum, 80 km/h when clearing snow
  • Total weight: 80 tonnes (20 tonnes per axle)
  • Length: 16.5 m

At BahnTag 2003, I had the chance to witness a 716 being demonstrated at DB's Fulda repair facility. Sadly, there was no snow, but that's no wonder -- the 716s never had to clear real snow on the Hanover-Würzburg line, though they have seen action on other lines. Anyway, the earth shook when the blower was turned on; these are some of the more noisy vehicles in DB's inventory.