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Cab forward

The term cab forward refers to various rail and road vehicle designs that place the driver's compartment substantially farther towards the front than is common practice.

In steam locomotive design, a cab forward design will typically have the driver's compartment (or cab) placed forward of the boiler at the very front of the engine. On a coal-fired locomotive, the fireman's station remains on the footplate behind the firebox so as to be next to the tender. On an oil-fired locomotive, the fireman's station could be (and normally is) in the forward cab. This type of design was widely, though not commonly, used throughout Europe in the first half of the 20th century, often in conjunction with an enclosed body design and/or streamlining.

Visibility is greatly improved from the cab, and fumes from the chimney do not fill a forward cab in tunnels. However, the crew's prospects in the event of a collision are worse, and if the driver and fireman are in separate places it is difficult for them to communicate, just as in autotrains.

In Germany, Borsig in Berlin built a one-off streamlined cab forward DRG Class 05 (serial number 05 003) 4-6-4 in 1937, with further development stopped by World War II. The design speed was 175 km/h (109 mph), but its conventional layout sister 05 002 set a new world speed record for steam locomotives on May 11, 1936, after reaching 200.4 km/h (124.5 mph) on the Berlin–Hamburg line hauling a 197 t train, a record it lost two years later to the British LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard. In 1944, the streamlining was removed, but the 05 003 had by then already lost its cab forward layout. After the war, it pulled express trains in West Germany until 1958. It was scrapped in 1960.



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