The International Steam Pages

Active Fireless Steam Locomotives in Germany 2013 - 7

Two visits by the Illert brothers to Grosskraftwerk Mannheim in January 2017 produced a Meiningen 0-6-0 'in steam' both times and shunting once, but the 'new' 0-8-0 was not active (1st February 2017).

Peter Illert visited Amsdorf/Roeblingen on Saturday 17th December 2016. He found the fireless on the spoil train, with the operation pattern unchanged to previous reports (1st February 2017).

Note the most recent 2014 visits to Herne at the top of this page. Also the story continues with news from Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic in 2014/5.

Now Christoph Oboth (14th December 2014) confirms continuing operation at Herne. He and Trevor Heath have told me about a 'new' fireless for Mannheim.

Ineos Herne (formerly Veba/Hüls/Condea/Sasol)

Krupp 0-6-0 No.5 is back after some heavy repairs through the summer. It has indeed been taken over by Ineos. Operation is still in the same way as ever: one trip to the mainline interchange between 6 and 7 a.m, another between 1 and 2 p.m. Meanwhile, the loco will wait at the signal box just at the level crossing Brunnenstrasse. After a heavy storm in June, most of the trees north of the second level crossing are gone - providing some new spots for photography.

Grosskraftwerk Mannheim

This site is known to run two Meiningen locos and and a huge Henschel 0-8-0. After the Meinigen 0-6-0 sometimes failed to pull a fully loaded train, a second Henschel 0-8-0 has been obtained: On December 7th 2014, Henschel 25099/1955 (formerly Veba-Ruhroel Gelsenkirchen Scholven No.5) was sent to Meiningen works for overhaul to running condition. After withdrawal, Veba No 5 had been stored at the former DB-shed at Gelsenkirchen Bismarck since 1995 (together with Scholven No 2 (0-4-0) and 3 (0-6-0)). No 5 is supposed to be back in running order in late 2015. See the report in the local paper:

Andreas Illert was at Mannheim on 8th March 2013 "while exploring photo positions for the Dampfspektakel event. Two fireless locos could be spotted from the opposite bank of the Rhine. On a Saturday they were parked in the premises with no activity during my one-hour visit. Coal was unloaded from a ship. Loaded freight wagons were stored at the far end of the railway line, so they still receive coal by rail."

Mark Palmer reports that the locos are (or at least were in February 2013) still at work at Mannheim, Herne and Osnabruck (100% of the regularly working 'real' steam in western Europe, he thinks); although he didn't visit any other locations. Thomas Kautzor was at Herne in May 2013 and his report follows on below. Click here for Andreas Illert's original report which covers a wide variety of sites. I have since (7th November 2013) added Mark's pictures from Osnabruck. 

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Despite the gloomy update below, Geoff Warren had a successful visit to SASOL Herne on 25th February 2014. "I was rewarded with the fireless performing as per previous reports. At 07:30 the level crossing gates opened, and few minutes later the loco shed doors also. The loco was recharged from the supply piping which is on the front of the shed. Then there was some shunting in the factory; a trip to the exchange siding; and more shunting until 09:45 when gates closed again. The next activity was expected after 12:00 and I caught the train back to the UK. The weather was kind; cool and sunny." This added 12th March 2014.

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Andreas Illert visited Herne on 13th March 2014. It appears that the works will survive as SASOL sold it last minute to the Switzerland-based INEOS holding. The takeover was announced in mid- December. The European anti-trust authorities need to approve the deal but the factory staff expects no difficulties. As I arrived at Herne around 10.00 the diesel was parked near Brunnenstrasse level crossing, and fireless No 5 (Krupp 3330/1958) was visible in the shed. The staff told me that the steam locomotive needed some attention in the morning so the diesel was on duty. With repairs finished No. 5 took over. It hauled tank wagons to the exchange siding at 13.00 and retired to the shed soon after. Obviously the operation patterns did not change. You can expect activity between 7.00 and 14.00 on weekdays.

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Peter Illert visited the Grosskraftwerk Mannheim site three times in April 2014 (report added 8th May 2014). He was lucky on just one day (April 7th) when GKM 3 (0-8-0F, Henschel 24939/1953) hauled a rake of 23 loaded coal wagons into the power station at 10.00 in the morning. It appears that just two or three coal trains arrive per week. Most of the coal for the power station is imported from overseas and transferred to river ships at the coastal ports. If a train runs it can be observed from the overpass of the road to the landing of the Altrip ferry.

Andreas Illert has added this gloomy update (10th December 2013):

SASOL Herne:

I visited November 28th 2013, the railway operated as described before. Wagons were exchanged with RAG around 11h20 at the yard near Mulvanystrasse level crossing. But a diesel was on duty, namely SASOL No 6 (Henschel 1964). The staff told me that the fireless is “ill”. They are waiting for spare parts. I saw the fireless from the distance in the shed. If everything works well, the staff expects the fireless to work again in mid December. However, the operation is doomed. The South African Holding announced its intension to shut down the branch at Herne in spring 2014. Until now SASOL was not successful in selling the Herne factory to another operator.

Andreas Illert has added this update (27th October 2013):

Sodawerke Stassfurt:

A report from September 2013 states that two fireless locos are still working. Andreas visited on Friday 18th October 2013, one fireless loco and one V60 diesel were shunting in the premises of the factory. The fireless loco operated the loading facility and moved just a few metres during a period of four hours. The area is fenced, but it is possible to spot the loco from the level crossing at Athenslebener Weg. The building where I assume the stationary steam engine has not changed, so a chance for working steam remains. 

Romonta GmbH, Amsdorf:

According to sources at Romonta GmbH the fireless loco (Meiningen 03067/1985) is back in service. It operates as required, most likely on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays around 8:00 to 9:00 in the morning. Trains run on the private track along the DB main line between the factory at Arnsdorf and the exchange yard at Roeblingen am See. Andreas visited here on Friday 18th October 2013: At 8 in the morning Romonta lacked the usual activity. Not a single freight wagon rested in the yard. The gatekeeper told us that volumes in rail transport have declined and they prefer the diesel for what is left. At our visit the diesel and the operable fireless loco were locked in the shed. Fireless 4-118 (0-6-0, LKM Babelsberg 146647, 1959) is plinthed at the road. Another 0-6-0 fireless is stored out of service in the yard.


Observations: I visited on Monday 25th February 2013, arriving at the ferry slip at about 11.30. A fireless loco could be seen in the distance, not apparently active. I crossed the ferry and made my way to the western end of the complex where loco no. 3 was in steam and attached to some wagons. Before very long it shunted them a short distance eastwards, and some time later rather further westwards. During the following long pause I walked to the ferry and back to keep warm, and on my return found that the loco had moved a short way to what looked as if it might have been the charging station, where it remained for some considerable time. Eventually I had to leave to be sure of catching my train north; as I walked back to the ferry the loco moved east to stop between the two parts of the power station, and as I passed out of sight at about 14.40 it was moving westwards again. I wondered whether this activity was a preliminary to delivering empty wagons to the main line, but couldn't stay to find out. The power station is being extended at the eastern end; I don't know whether this will make any difference to rail activity.

Practical information: I took tram no. 1 to Dannstadter Strasse, and then walked to the ferry in about 15 minutes with the help of a Google Maps printout -- walk back towards the city centre for a short distance, turn towards the river on Friedelsheimer Strasse, go through the subway under the railway, continue a short distance in the same direction, bear left on Altriper Strasse past the back of the power station and follow the perimeter until you get to the ferry. The ferry runs about every 15 minutes and costs 50 cents for a foot passenger if you don't already have a zonal ticket covering the appropriate zone (it's outside the Mannheim city fare zone). There's a bus route across the ferry, starting at the Friedrichstrasse tram stop, but it only runs every hour or two; and one to Altrip village from the other side of the river, but I don't know how frequent it is. There's a cafe on the Altrip side of the ferry but in winter it's not open midweek. Binoculars may be useful for observing the locomotive from across the river.


Observations: I visited on Tuesday 26th February 2013. I first made a brief pre-breakfast visit between about 07.20 and 07.40, and things seemed to be just getting going -- when I arrived there was no sign of the loco, but by the time I left it could be seen through the open doors of its shed, apparently connected to the steam supply, and the gates of the lower level crossing had been opened. I returned about 09.30 and found the loco coming to a halt by the level crossing at the works entrance, where it seems to spend most of its time between rounds of activity -- at least you can see it close to, with a wisp of steam to show that it's 'live'. Around 10.30 a diesel appeared at the works entrance having left some tank wagons on the curve near the main line; the steam loco hauled some more wagons down to the curve, left them there, and propelled the first lot up into the works; and then if I remember rightly the diesel took the outgoing wagons away. Further activity took place for some time after 13.00 (shunting which frequently brought the loco out of the works across the level crossing) and at about 13.45 (the loco took some more wagons down and left them on the curve, before returning light engine; the lower level crossing gates were closed behind it and I had the impression that that was the end of activity for the day).

Practical information: To locate the works, go to Google Maps and search for 'Brunnenstrasse Herne' (if you switch to the satellite/aerial view and zoom in, you can even see the locomotive). It's a few minutes walk west of the main street of Herne, which has various places that sell food (the nearest public toilet is just off that street).


Introduction: This was where I was least certain of finding steam activity, as there were no definite reports since 2008. I found a picture on the Internet from September 2011:, but it may not be the one mentioned in an earlier report, as I think it depicts a predecessor of the current loco, now preserved elsewhere elsewhere in Osnabruck -- see this article from the local paper: (link dead 25th August 2015). Another newspaper article from 2012 indicated that the loco was still in use: link dead by 25th October 2016. I e-mailed the man who runs the website, and he said that the loco was still in service but its operations were limited as most wagons were delivered by DB Schenker. I don't know whether this meant limited in time (not every day) or limited in space (only within the factory), or indeed literally that DBS delivered wagons and the steam loco took outgoing ones. In fact this location turned out to have the best ratio of action to waiting time, although perhaps I was lucky.

Observations: I arrived at about 12.00 on Wednesday 27th February. There was little sign of rail activity at first, but at about 13.00 shunting began, bringing the loco out of the factory towards the main road. This was followed by the delivery of two rakes of wagons to the main line in quick succession, the first being hauled and the second propelled. The loco had disappeared back inside the factory by about 13.50. The wagons were still standing at the exchange sidings when I passed by on a train about 90 minutes later, so presumably the timing of activity on the branch isn't directly dependent on when the main line locomotive visits.

Practical information: Bus routes 91 and 92 combine to give a service at 10 minute intervals on weekdays; you get out at the Gretescher Turm stop just before the level crossing on the line into the factory. Stops are announced on board; if I remember rightly tickets cost 2.40 euros and are bought from the driver, who can give change. Much of the northern part of the branch line is visible from the street, and a footpath crossing enables you to look in through the factory gates; the curve to the main line is out of sight behind houses, but the exchange sidings can be seen end-on from the level crossing on the main line.

These are Mark's pictures from 27th February 2013.

Shunting at the factory gate:

The locomotive returns from the main line exchange sidings after delivering the first rake of outbound wagons.

The second rake of wagons is propelled across the main road towards the exchange sidings.

Thomas Kautzor was at Herne in May 2013 and I mislaid his report which is given below:

"It was of course raining again. That's when I paid a visit to the SASOL plant in Herne. SASOL has long given up on steam traction in South Africa, but in 2001 when it bought the Herne plant, which produces liquid isopropanol and ethanol, it inherited the plant's fireless 0-6-0F No. 5 (Krupp 3330/1958). The loco was one of 16 locos of the same type built between 1951 and 1959. It was delivered new to Deutsche Shell AG, Hamburg and came to Herne in 1972. It was fully overhauled in August 2011 and is used on weekdays between 07.00 and 13.00 to shunt chemical tank wagons within the plant and from/to the exchange siding north of it, the last operational fireless steam loco in the Ruhr. It can be photographed at the level crossings on Mulvanystrasse and Brunnenstrasse. For visitors who wish to spend the night, is a block away from the level crossing at the intersection of Brunnenstrasse and Grenzweg.

Rob Dickinson