CZ/SK verze

Kremak Locomotives: Bridging the Gap Between Pre-War and Modern Steam Trains

Kremak Locomotives: Bridging the Gap Between Pre-War and Modern Steam Trains
photo: Czech Railways, Press Release/Kremak Locomotives: Bridging the Gap Between Pre-War and Modern Steam Trains
04 / 09 / 2023

Already during World War I, the Škoda Works in Plzeň was involved in repairing locomotives in addition to producing armaments. After the war, in 1924, the locomotives became more economical and powerful, although they consumed a lot of fuel and required operators to be in excellent physical condition. It earned these locomotives the nickname "Kremák."

Czechoslovak State Railways (ČSD) also experimented with various methods of boiler feed on the locomotives to achieve fuel and water savings. After comparing different options, ČSD chose exhaust injectors, which led to up to 10% fuel savings. Subsequent series of locomotives featured a different boiler, a cast-iron stack, a two-stage compressor, a pressure brake, single-rule crossovers, and LF injectors. Significant changes came with the 1937 series of locomotives.

This new series had a boiler with the same external dimensions but a different internal arrangement that included a large tube superheater. Specifically, it was positioned higher up. These boilers had a low steam dome at the front with a valve regulator inside. The running gear remained identical to that of the previous series, and parts were interchangeable.

During World War II, comparative tests between locomotives 534.0122, 123, and 50.173 DR were conducted on the Brno - Česká Třebová line from 1940 to 1941. The German locomotive outperformed the others in these tests.

After the war, there was an urgent need to replenish the destroyed locomotive fleet. Both ČKD and Škoda factories had been bombed, leaving neither time nor space to build new locomotives. Locomotives of the 534.0 series were evaluated by Czechoslovak experts as very good, leading to the decision to continue their production. The first locomotive to be demonstrated, on December 22, 1945, was 534.0301, the first locomotive produced in the liberated republic.

Although it was considered a transitional type of locomotive, it proved to be very successful. Over time, these were gradually replaced on the main lines by the 556.0 series but continued to perform well on secondary lines, thanks to their low axle pressure. Towards the end of its service, a cast-iron chimney was fitted to locomotive 534.0301 at the request of the National Technical Museum. The locomotive ended its service life in Klatovy and was donated to the National Technical Museum in 1982 as a fully operational locomotive.

Kremak locomotives, known for their high durability, were used for heavy-duty operations and various advanced work methods. This type served as a transitional model between pre-war and modern steam locomotives.