Overview of the Eras

Anyone serious about the hobby will find on this page an overview of the time periods and emblems for historic and current European railroads. The eras have been divided up according to NEM standards, but the dividing line for later eras is not exactly sharp. Also, the features of different eras can overlap in the prototype.

The pictograms defined for the eras can also be found by the models so that you can assemble prototypical trains from a respective era. You can search with our rolling stock to find matching period rolling stock.  But then again this is a hobby and nothing should be taken too serious, and in addition many past period rolling stock has been restored to be used for the current period on "Museums Tours" and other fun rides.


Era I

1835 to about 1925
Provincial and privately owned railroads came about in the founding phase of railroading, some of them with extensive track networks. Era I is marked by a variety of locomotive and car types, colors and lettering.


Era II

1925 to 1945
The great national state railroads established themselves in Europe. In Germany the provincial and privately owned railroads were merged in 1920 into the German State Railroad Company (DRG). The variety of locomotives and cars was condensed with standardized designs.



1945 to 1970
The Fifties and Sixties were marked by reconstruction and economic growth. The new German Federal Railroad (DB) grew quickly, and steam locomotives had to make way for more powerful and efficient diesel and electric locomotives. The German State Railroad (DR) in former East Germany developed parallel to this.


Era IV

1970 to 1990
The European wide, unified, computer UIC lettering for all locomotives and cars marked the beginning of this era. This process lasted for several years so that you could see a mix of old and new lettering especially on the cars.

Era V

1990 to 2006
New paint schemes signaled the "New Period" of modern railroading. At the same time thought was being given in almost all European countries to fundamentally new methods of structuring the railroads and these methods are now being realized in a concrete way. After the reunification of Germany the German State Railroad (DR) and the German Federal Railroad (DB) were merged in steps into the German Railroad, Inc. (DB AG). There has been a new logo for the DB AG since 1994. There has been a rich mix of different paint schemes and logos in this era too.


Era VI

2006 to the present

The liberalization of railroad traffic in Europe is bringing new requirements to the railroad for locomotives and cars that must agree with European railroad standards for international use. Of course, there are no standardized paint schemes and identification lettering, but there is a new 12-digit numbering system, also for locomotives and powered rail cars, that will make clear in the models that a unit belongs to the present time in railroad technical terms.