In late summer 2014, Görlitz had good reason to celebrate. The facility, at which a total of 15 engineers and technicians verify the safety of rolling stock and carry out amongst others derailment and crash tests on behalf of customers from all over the world, was established 50 years ago. The former test facility of Deutsche Reichsbahn, the state-owned rail operator of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), at Görlitz has an area of 35,000 sqm, four kilometres of tracks and 20 switches and crossings. It has been owned by TÜV SÜD Rail since 2008.
Coupling systems for use on rail vehicles and rolling stock have been tested in Görlitz for half a century. Comprehensive tests by accredited bodies are one of the requirements for approval by one of the national railway authorities.
The testing facility in the Schlauroth district of Görlitz has seen many changes over the years. In the GDR era, engineers developed and tested new rail technologies at the Deutsche Reichsbahn test grounds. The Görlitz test centre coordinated testing facilities in the former Soviet Union, welcoming engineers from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Poland to Görlitz. And as early as the 1960s there was close collaboration with rail operators in Western Europe, despite the Iron Curtain and the Cold War.
International experience with rolling stock, tracks, power supply and signalling systems helped Frank Reichstein, the head of the testing facility, and his team to reposition themselves after the fall of communism. Even though the facility underwent massive downsizing, its employees stayed motivated, making dedicated use of their skills and expertise. Their know-how was as much in demand then as it is today. Continuously developing new services and collaborating with renowned partners, the Görlitz testing facility has added a new test scope every year. Its staff, too, has increased steadily and will continue to do so in 2015.