Mine train

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Deutz mine locomotive MLH 514, built in 1938

The mine railway includes railway systems, which are used in mining above and below ground to transport ore , coal and overburden as well as to transport the miners (miners). Today, mine railways are mostly operated electrically, in earlier times ponies such as Shetland ponies served as draft animals . In very cramped conditions, children were also used, i.e. in this case it was a hand-operated train .


Vehicles of the mine railway of the Salzgitterreviers in the museum Schloss Salder

Mine railways are available as

  • Bench railways
  • Connecting tracks
  • Connecting tracks

with different track widths, which are determined by the necessary restrictions of the curve radii and the clearance profiles .

Mine railways often have no direct connection to the mine connection railway or the public rail network due to their mostly small gauge . In underground mining , the narrow gauge and a small vehicle boundary profile enable rail operations in the mine, even in narrow stretches . In particular in opencast mines , however, there are also mine railway systems in normal or national standard gauge. This is useful if the breakdown products can be removed without further treatment. In central Germany, in the Leipzig-Altenburg brown coal district, there was the largest contiguous, narrow-gauge mine and coal connecting rail network in Europe until 1995 . At the time of its greatest expansion, it covered 726 kilometers in a 900 millimeter gauge. Of this, about 215 kilometers were repositionable bench tracks within the pits and 511 kilometers were stationary track systems for the coal connecting railways.

Until 1999, the last 900 millimeter mine railway in Saxony was maintained in the Zwenkau opencast mine near Leipzig . The formerly existing track network was recently used: 70 kilometers of relocatable and 90 kilometers of stationary track systems in 900 millimeters gauge within the Zwenkau open-cast mine and about 20 kilometers of regular-gauge coal connecting rail to the power plants (1995–1999). With the closure of this open-cast mine, the history of the 900-millimeter mine railways in lignite mining in Saxony also ended. In December 1999, the last Central German mine and coal railway operation on 900 millimeter gauge in Lausitz was shut down.

Electrical operation

The electrical drive technology used before 1900 with direct voltage of a few hundred volts and direct motor feed from the contact line enabled the construction of powerful, small and robust tractors with simple means. This met the needs of mine railways, especially for underground operation, and so electrical operation at mine railways spread early and extensively.

The world's first electric mining locomotive was developed by Siemens & Halske for hard coal mining in Zauckerode in Saxony (now part of Freital ) near Dresden . The locomotive, christened “Dorothea” (Latin: gift of God), went into operation on August 25, 1882 in the 5th main cross passage of the Oppelschacht of the Zauckerode Royal Coal Works . It was in service until mining on the Oppelschacht ceased in 1927, making it the first electric locomotive in the world to be in continuous use. It has been preserved and is on loan from Siemens in the Freital Municipal Collections at Burgk Castle .

In 1894 the mine railway of the Aachener Hütten-Aktien-Verein Rothe Erde was operated electrically, and subsequently numerous other mine railways in the Rhineland , Saarland , Lorraine , Luxembourg and Wallonia, Belgium . Large-scale deliveries of electric locomotives for this purpose were made primarily by Allgemeine Electricitäts-Gesellschaft ( AEG ), Siemens & Halske , Siemens-Schuckert -Werke (SSW) and Union Electricitäts-Gesellschaft (UEG) to these countries. In all mines of Ruhrkohle AG (today Deutsche Steinkohle AG, DSK) explosion-protected mining locomotives from Schalke Eisenhütte are used.

Compressed air operation

The drive of compressed air locomotives via stored compressed air , which carries the locomotive in pressure vessels. This drive has advantages in terms of mine safety and, as a disadvantage, high operating costs.

Fuel operation

DIEMA mine railway locomotive with trolley in front of the visitor mine Grube Christiane in Adorf (Diemelsee)

Modern mine train locomotives are operated exclusively with diesel fuel for safety reasons (the fuel is flame retardant) . In the 19th and early 20th centuries, however , the vehicles were also run on petrol , benzene and a mixture of alcohol and benzene. Since such drives were most likely used in ore mining, fire- weather protection had to be implemented through special engine designs and special exhaust gas routing with subsequent cooling water injection and screen, chip or plate protection in front of the exhaust openings. These filters also made a major contribution to reducing unpleasant odors.

Coal railway as a museum and museum railway

A remnant of the Leipzig-Altenburg coal mining area existing coal train can be visited as a museum or a museum train and driven. On the route from Meuselwitz via Haselbach to Regis-Breitingen there is a regular museum operation.

Mine railways in visitor mines


Surname state place particularities
Deep tunnel Baden-Württemberg Aalen-Wasseralfingen Visitor mine with 600 mm mine train, 1032 m total distance, 603 m for visitors, battery locomotives, diesel locomotives
Berchtesgaden salt mine Bavaria Berchtesgaden
Fortuna pit (Solms) Hesse Oberbiel Visitor mine with shaft operation, field and mine railway museum with round course, 600 millimeters, 2.3 kilometers
Barsinghausen monastery tunnel Lower Saxony Barsinghausen 600 millimeters, 1.3 kilometers
Ottiliae shaft Clausthal-Zellerfeld - Clausthal Day conveyor to the former station in Clausthal, 600 millimeters, 2.2 kilometers
Rammelsberg World Heritage Site Goslar
Lautenthal's luck pit Langelsheim - Lautenthal
Ramsbeck ore mine North Rhine-Westphalia Bestwig - Ramsbeck
Kleinenbremen visitor mine Small brakes
Silberhardt mine Windeck / victory 600 millimeters
Kilianstollen visitor mine Marsberg 1100 meters
Bindweide pit Rhineland-Palatinate Steinebach / victory
Markus-Röhling-Stolln Saxony Annaberg-Buchholz 600 millimeters
Visitor mine Zinngrube Ehrenfriedersdorf on the Sauberg Ehrenfriedersdorf (underground route), 600 mm
Röhrigschacht show mine Saxony-Anhalt Sangerhausen - Wettelrode
Rabensteiner tunnel Thuringia Ilfeld - net hangover 600 millimeters


  1. Minièresbunn , Fond-de-Gras , 700 millimeters, four kilometers
  2. National Museum of Luxembourg Iron Mines , circuit


  1. Hallstatt Salt Mine
  2. Paradeisstollen Radmer in Styria
  3. Schwaz silver mine

Web links

Commons : Mine Railways  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Fritz Heise , Friedrich Herbst: Textbook of mining science with special consideration of hard coal mining . 4th edition. tape 2 . Springer, Berlin 1923, p. 390-394 .