The 5.6MW 15kv AC 200km/h class 120.1 locomotives are mostly in use with DB Long Distance, although usage has declined in recent years as new ICE3 (Velaro D) and ICE4 EMUs as well as IC2 push-pull trains have been introduced, and overnight sleeper trains have been withdrawn. The introduction of more ICE4 and IC2 trains from December 2017 should remove almost all remaining class 120 work with DB Long Distance.

Eight of the locomotives were modified in 2007 as class 120.2 to enable push-pull operation with double-deck stock with DB Regio although this is also likely to end in the near future as more modern Traxx locomotives are cascaded to replace them.

All of the production locomotives built in 1987 as class 120.1 were originally designed for use on overnight freight traffic as well as passenger services. It is understood that all units currently in passenger service are available for potential purchase by new owners.

The 84-tonne locomotives are fitted with LZB and Indusi safety systems enabling use on parts of the German high speed network.