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In order to have guidelines for realistic model railways, the international press association “ferpress” divided the railroad history into epochs in 1968. These guidelines have largely prevailed, but are of course not binding. They are intended more as a suggestion so that, for example, modern wind turbines are not built in Era II, this would certainly be a blatant break in style. You don't have to take the subject of epochs so seriously, but it is not wrong to know what these epochs are all about. You can find a small overview of the epochs here, if you want to deal more deeply with the topic, we recommend the Modellbahnkurier, issues 10 and 12. It exclusively deals with the topic of epochs in Germany, FRG, GDR with very detailed information.
Some large-scale manufacturers indicate in their catalogs from which epoch their kit or rolling stock can be used.
Model railroad era 0: until 1870 - beginnings -
In the post-Napoleon era, Europe was split up into a multitude of individual states. Little by little, these kingdoms and principalities are starting to build their own state and provincial railways, which do not follow uniform standards in terms of color, dimensions and functions and are therefore fundamentally incompatible. The first German route Nuremberg-Fürth with the Adler is built. The railroad is important in negotiating poor roads and low transport capacities.
For model railroaders rather uninteresting, as there are hardly any materials and accessories.
Model railroad era 1: 1870 - 1920 - the regional railroad era -
It is the age of industrialization. The economy and trade are strongly stimulated as a result, and individual mobility is also increasing. The emerging liberalist urge for intellectual freedom is now joined by the possibility of freedom of movement. Use of steam locomotives, occasional first attempts with electric motors. Additional upswing for the railway was created by the First World War. The regional railways will remain in place until the end of the war.
Model railroad epoch 2: 1920 - 1945 - old Reichsbahn era -
The German Empire, created by Bismarck, went under with the First World War. The Weimar Republic changed Germany politically from the ground up, the former individual states lost their importance. Most of the German Railways went to the victorious powers as reparations, including 8,000 locomotives alone. The large national state railways established themselves in Europe. In Germany, the state and private railways were merged in 1920 to form the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft (DRG). The variety of vehicles was streamlined by standard designs. In order to save costs in the production, operation and maintenance of the locomotives for the newly founded Deutsche Reichsbahn, uniform, modular construction standards were created, according to which every new development had to be designed. This is how the “standard locomotive” was created.
The coloring and lettering of the rail vehicles will be standardized. Use of electric and diesel locomotives is increasing. In the 1930s and 1940s, not least for reasons of prestige, there were some superlatives in terms of size and speed, e.g. the first time the limit of 200 km / h was exceeded with a steam locomotive (BR 05 002 in 1936)
Model railroad era 3: 1945 - 1975 - post-war period -
The division of Germany begins and with it that of the railway companies in "Deutsche Bundesbahn" and Deutsche Reichsbahn "
Reconstruction and the economic miracle in the post-war era. From 1968 the locomotive designations were changed to “EDP numbers”, the UIC lettering. A mood between the “Cold War” and growing prosperity with full employment characterize the time.
In the socialist planned economy, the railroad is and will remain the most important mode of transport; there is no upturn in individual transport. Old steam locomotives and passenger coaches are extensively modernized, so-called “reconstructions”.
Model railway era 4: 1975 - 1990 - Deutsche Bundesbahn -
The optimization of long-distance passenger transport leads to the introduction of intercity trains. Terrorism and declining economic growth weigh on the previous life euphoria. High-speed trains compete with previous individual and national air traffic.
Beginning of the ICE era.
From 1970 there is a changeover to IT numbers for locomotives, the UIC labeling. The procurement of Russian and Romanian large diesel locomotives replaces the construction of own constructions and the use of steam locomotives. A steam locomotive was last used in 1987. At the beginning of the 1980s, the DR's share of inland freight transport rose to almost 80%.
Model railway epoch 5: 1990 - today - reunification of DB and DR-
After the reunification, the DB and DR will also be united
New color concepts signal the "modern times" of modern railways, at the same time in almost all European countries people began to think about fundamental restructuring that are being implemented today.
The new DB AG logo has existed since 1994. In this era, too, a juxtaposition of different color and logo variants can be observed. The growing individualization in locomotion is characteristic. The rail reform is intended to transfer the heavily deficit, state-subsidized “Deutsche Bundesbahn” into the profit-oriented, privatized “Deutsche Bahn AG”. Investments in high-speed lines and trains and in logistics systems should make the railways competitive. First approvals from private railway companies, especially in local passenger and freight transport.
For epochs outside of Germany, reference is made to the relevant specialist literature or corresponding pages on the Internet.
You can find the official standards according to NEM (standards of European model railways) via these links:
NEM 800 railway eras in general, Europe
NEM 806 railway epochs in Germany
NEM 804 railway epochs in Switzerland
NEM 801 railway epochs in Austria
NEM 808 railway eras in Denmark
NEM 818 railway eras in the Netherlands
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