In the mid 1930"s competition threatened the steam locomotive: Fast, diesel-powered cars dominated high-quality longdistance travel. Consequently the steam engine industry produced modern high-performance locomotives that reached speeds of up to 200 km/h or 124 mph. For traffic between Berlin and Dresden the German State Railroad procured a whole train. It was pulled by the class 61. From this class Henschel produced two prototypes with totally different designs. He 61 001 had a 2'C2' wheel arrangement and a twocylinder drive gear. The State Railroad provided the 61 002, which was completed in 1939 a trailing axle and an additional cylinder. Naturally, both locomotives had streamlined bodies.
While other streamlined locomotives hauled conventional trains, the German State Railroad especially commissioned streamlined cars for express service between Berlin and Dresden. They were built by Wegmann; like Henschel a company based in Kassel. Interestingly enough there was no first class car. To compensate, first class comfort dominated in 2nd class, according to the press. The appellation "salon car" was totally justified. The first and last cars both had a rounded end with large panorama windows. Travelers in the last car were thus offered an excellent view of and around the route the train was putting behind itself.
When the 1936 summer timetable went into effect the German State Railroad started express service between Prussia and Saxony. Two pairs of trains were underway daily. The fastest train completed the journey in one hour and 40 minutes. At this speed it surpassed the previous record holder by 28 minutes. In the afternoon however, the turnaround time at the terminus between the D 54 and D 57 was tightly metered out at only 32 minutes. The German State Railroad also had to consider that replacement locomotives of other classes did not reach the top speed of the 61. If the 61 fell out to scheduled or non-scheduled service, the Dresden 01 or 03 took over the rake of cars. Instead of 175 km/h or 109 mph, however it reached only 130 to 140 km/h or 81 to 87 mph. As a consequence the German State Railroad loosened up the timetable slightly.
Express service ended when the war started. From that point the cars served the military, the locomotives spent most of their time in inactivity. At the end of the war the 61 001 remained in the British zone. By 1951 it was relegated as splint class. In 1952 it was taken out of service, and it was dismantled in 1957. The 61 002 became part of the State Railroad of the Soviet zone. It hauled passenger and express trains from Dresden. After it was taken out of service in 1958; main frame, front wheels and coupled wheels remained intact in the high-speed trial train, 18201.