The King of the Hump Yard Tracks.
Growing freight traffic and stiff competition from other freight carriers prompted the DB to modernize its freight service extensively at the start of the 1960s. Important steps were the construction of larger switching yards as a focal point of the program and the bundling of freight trains. Powerful switch engines were required, because the new freight flows were beyond the capabilities of the V 60.
The new switch engine was designated the V 90 and was developed from the basic concept for the V 100, which was too light in weight and too long as a general-purpose road engine. The locomotive builder MaK delivered 20 pre-production locomotives starting in 1964. The bullish appearance of these locomotives gave a hint of the new tasks. The V-12 motor and the universal joint drive shafts came from the elegant sibling, the transmission designed for switching work was new, and ballast weight was installed in place of train heating equipment. The length grew to over 14 meters / 45 feet 11-3/16 inches, with a total weight of 77 metric tons and a starting tractive effort of 23.6 metric tons. This data was proof that these locomotives were up to the job, and they were reliable in their work. Additional units were ordered and delivered starting in 1966 with just a few design changes. By 1973 a total of 408 units had been built; the DB gave them the new designation class 290 in its computer numbering system.
A more powerful, heavier version of the locomotive was built parallel to the V 90; it was designated the V 90 P. Initially, there were 3 prototypes. The regular production version of this locomotive accompanied the delivery of the 290. The 100 units built were designated as the class 291.
Starting in 1995, about half of the locomotives in both classes were equipped with radio control. All of the important running functions and the coupler can be controlled by the "locomotive switching engineer" directly from the ground. These remote control locomotives were given the new class numbers 294 and 295. At present 499 units are still in use by Railion, a ratio to the original quantities built that hardly any other locomotive family in Germany has reached after up to 40 years in service.