The International Steam Pages

Fireless Steam Survivors in Germany

Andreas Illert provided information and pictures (which are stills captured from digital video) based on the position in 2004. With the help of Felix Brun he has now updated it to reflect the position in 2007 - the only additions in fact are in other industrial sites. A number of further small changes were noted by May 2008 mainly in the other industrial sites. You can read also Mark Palmer's account of visits in February 2013 . Minor additions below were made on 5th October 2013.

Andreas supplied the following updated information in July 2012, for further information on each location please read the original text below.

Grosskraftwerk Mannheim, Mannheim-Neckarau:

The most recent report on fireless operations is from September 2011, see pictures at,5536365. I expect the situation has not changed.

Sodawerke Stassfurt:

Fireless steam operations – if any - now only happen within the fenced premises of the factory. The most recent report is from April 2010, see The report states that visitors are only allowed to enter at events such as the factory’s “Day of open gate”. This might explain the lack of current reports. If you have the chance to enter, ask the staff on the stationary steam engine that was still working some years ago. Andreas Illert adds (24th July 2013) "No news (good or bad) recently. Last report in the www is from May 2012."

Andreas Illert adds (5th October 2013):

A report from September 2013 states that two fireless locos are still working.

ROMONTA GmbH, Arnsdorf:

The fireless loco was overhauled in September 2010. Unfortunately the filling station is no longer operable, and needs to be improved to meet environmental regulations. In October 2011 the trains to Roeblingen were hauled by the small diesel. Trains operate Monday, Wednesday and Friday around 8:00 to 9:00 in the morning. The factory intends to change back to steam operation if possible. Andreas Illert adds (24th July 2013) "My brother paid a short visit to Arnsdorf in February 2013. He found the train to Roeblingen being worked by the diesel. He did not see the fireless loco. It was probably stored in the shed. The filling station for the fireless loco appeared to have not been operated for a longer period."

Andreas Illert adds (5th October 2013):

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. 

Felix Schoeller GmbH, Osnabrueck:

Most recent picture in the Web is from September 4 2011

Sasol, Herne:

This operates 0-6-0 fireless (Krupp 3330/1958). On working days (M to F. Saturday?) the loco collects wagons at the interchange with Deutsche Bahn around 6:00 in the morning, and brings the wagons to the factory. Shunting can be observed from the level crossing at Brunnenstrasse. After a break for the staff the loco makes another trip to the mainline between 12:30 and 13:00. A video from November 2011 is available on YouTube: The August 2012 edition of the German magazine „Eisenbahnkurier“ confirms the loco is still working.

Heinsberg, Industriepark Oberbruch GmbH & Co. KG:

Fireless operations ended in autumn 2007.

Berlin, Bewag AG, Heizkraftwerk Klingenberg: 

Fireless operations ended in autumn 2004.

Grosskraftwerk Mannheim 

The huge GKM power station is situated at the southern edge of the town, in the suburb of Mannheim-Neckarau, at the bank of river Rhine. It requires two million tons of coal per year. Three quarters of the coal arrive by ship on the river, one quarter is carried on rails. The state railway delivers one or two trains a day to the gates of the complex. Each train consists of about 20 wagons. For internal shunting, the power station owns three operable fireless locomotives, two from Meiningen and one Henschel. Working loco is GKM3, a large 0-8-0F built by Henschel in 1953. The Meiningen locos are standby. 

Operations can be best viewed from the opposite bank of the river. The position can be reached easily with the car ferry to Altrip that crosses the river just east of the power station. In case a train arrives at the east gate, the fireless will haul the consist along the whole waterfront to the unloading facilities at the far western end of the site. You need some luck to witness the situation. In our experience the chances are best in the afternoon. The other time of the day the loco sits idle at the unloading facilities, or shunts the wagons some metres back and forth. The river with its heavy ship traffic is much more busy. 

If there is no coal train delivered to or provided from DB, the fireless performs a reliable and photogenic runpast when the staff has breakfast or noon breaks. Then they travel on the light engine from the unloading facilities to the shed area between the two big power units. 

Sodawerke Stassfurt 

Stassfurt is a small town north-east of the Harz mountains near Magdeburg. It is well known to railway enthusiasts for its DR steam shed that was home to the last survivors of class 41 in the late 80s. Nowadays the shed is converted to a museum, with most of the facilities in situ and some steam locomotives in working order. The Sodawerke are situated at the western edge of the town. They operate two railway systems - an extensive standard gauge system that connects with DB, and an electrified narrow gauge railway from the factory to the quarries. 

On working days at least one fireless is in use. There may be two locos working in peak periods. Not only that there is steam on the railway, the factory boasts of a stationary steam engine in permanent operation. 

Two parts of the complex are connected by a railway line that crosses a public street. In previous years there were regular train movements over this branch in the morning hours. Nowadays it appears that the production process has been reorganized, as there is less traffic over this branch. Most activities happen within the fenced area. With some luck, one can still see a train venturing out of the complex. Chances are best before noon. 

The 600mm narrow gauge line is worked by tiny 4-wheel overhead electrics. They haul trains of four or five wagons. There are two trains on the line at any time. 

ROMONTA GmbH Arnsdorf

The Romonta AG is located at Arnsdorf, east of the Harz mountains, on the electrified Halle to Nordhausen mainline. The factory is built close to the mainline, but the exchange yard with DB is a few kilometers away to the west, just east of Roeblingen-am-See station. Romonta has its own railway line parallel to the DB tracks. This line used to be part of an extensive mining railway system, but apart from the connection to DB exchange yard everything is closed now. Romonta owns two fireless locos, of which only the Meiningen 0-6-0F from 1985 is in working order, and a small diesel. They prefer the fireless to the diesel for the regular operations. 

The usual pattern is out to the DB exchange yard around 8 am. The train will not be heavy, one to three wagons at maximum. The loco works cabin first from the factory. 

The local DB freight train arrives at Roeblingen around 9, and the fireless takes the incoming wagons back to the factory. At our last visit, there was no load to carry, so the fireless returned light engine to the factory.

Unfortunately, the fireless suffered a broken steam pipe in autumn 2003, and has been replaced by the small diesel since. There is hope that the fireless will be repaired, as its operation is said to be more economic then the diesel. However, the fireless was at work in summer 2007.

Other industrial sites in Germany with fireless locos in regular service: 

Felix Schoeller GmbH, Osnabrueck (added 8th May 2008): After overhaul in Meiningen the fireless 03 189 (Meiningen 03189, 1987) entered service on February 16 2008. Further to its shunting duties within the factory premises it serves the short branch to the mainline twice every day Monday to Friday. Between 6:00 and 06:45 the fireless collects eight to ten loaded waggons from DB at the former station Osnabrück-Luestringen. Between 13:15 and 14:00 it returns the empty wagons to the mainline. 

Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft, Werk Gendorf, Burgkirchen a.d. Alz: keeps fireless locomotive 'Resi' (Esslingen 4691/1944) as stand-by for the diesels. Confirmed under steam and working on May 2nd 2008. Andreas Illert adds (24th July 2013) "The works keep fireless locomotive 'Resi' (Esslingen 4691/1944) as stand-by for the diesels. Again confirmed working in February and March 2013 as diesel No. 6 was not available."

Gendorf, InfraServ Gendorf GmbH, in Bavaria - in 2005, 0-6-0 fireless Number 1 'Franzi' (KM 17222/1951) was replaced with a diesel. The loco is now plinthed at Muehldorf. 0-6-0 fireless Number 'Resi' (Esslingen 4691/1944) was at that time still in service as a stand-by but has since moved - see previous location..

Sasol (formerly Chemische Werke Huels AG), Herne, Germany - 0-6-0 fireless (Krupp 3330/1958) confirmed working in January 2008

Heinsberg, Industriepark Oberbruch GmbH & Co. KG, north of Aachen Osnabrueck-Lustringen, Felix Schoeller Papierfabrik GmbH.

East Berlin, Bewag AG, Heizkraftwerk Klingenberg, in the suburb of Lichtenberg

Fireless operations ceased: 

Enka tecnica GmbH, Heinsberg-Oberbruch: 
In January 2007 a new railway operator took over and transferred a small diesel loco to the site. The two fireless locomotives (Meiningen 03147, 1987; and Hanomag 9558, 1922) are now redundant. 

Mitteldeutsche Braunkohlengesellschaft mbH MIBRAG, Deuben: 
The last fireless locomotive (Meiningen 03111, 1986) has been sold to a private owner. The loco left Deuben in July 2007 by road transport to its new home at Karwitz.

There is a comprehensive overview on operating fireless locos in Germany (in German language) at dead by 12th April 2018)

Rob Dickinson