The Schalke Locomotive success story had its origins in Gelsenkirchen and like nearly all stories from the Ruhr district, it all began with mining. On 21 August 1872, Friedrich Grillo founded Schalker Eisenhütte Maschinenfabrik GmbH, a company that manufactured machinery and spare parts for use in underground mining. These included brakes, trucks, winding drums and tempered cast steel for the wheels of mine cars and trucks. The enterprise also produced coke oven equipment and castings in clay and sand as well as hard iron castings. Right from the beginning, Schalke products were known for their robustness, enduring strength and reliability – ideal for daily use in extremely rugged conditions.

Ten years later, Schalke built the first coke pusher machines. These gigantic steam-driven “monstrosities” were the forerunners of a series of coke oven machinery that also included transfer cars, guide machines and quenching cars. At that time, locomotives were used to pull the coke oven machinery and therefore Schalke took the next logical step and began building locomotives in its own right. The company’s portfolio was soon enlarged to include coke quenching cars and transport locomotives, all with the reliability that had become typical for Schalke. The powerful working machinery became popular and opened up a promising market for the future. In 1937 Schalke began producing 70-tonne catenary wire locomotives for mining brown coal in the Rhine district. By 1954 the company had built a total of 34 locomotives, cooperating with renowned electric companies such as Siemens, AEG and BBC to manufacture the first dual mode catenary wire and battery powered mining locomotives. Schalke’s expertise in the field of locomotives therefore grew continually, particularly when it came to innovative and alternative drive systems.

The Gelsenkirchen Schalke plant in 1953

In 1968 Schalke joined forces with the Bochum based Gebr. Eickhoff Maschinenfabrik u. Eisengießerei GmbH, which also specialized in building strong, sturdy machinery and had its origins in the mining sector. In the years that followed, Schalke concentrated not only on coke oven technology, but also increasingly on locomotives, beginning with units specially designed for use in coal mining. That was how the Ruhrkohle AG standard locomotive came into being. It was first manufactured in 1993, developed and purpose built for Germany’s underground coal mining and more than 120 have been delivered, making the name Schalke a synonym for dependable rail vehicles in the mining sector. The company gained a worldwide reputation and since the 1980s, Schalke has supplied more than 20 locomotives for many customers, including two different mines operated by CODELCO in Chile.

This hard-won knowledge and the experience gained in manufacturing rail vehicles specially designed for tough working conditions were also ideal for transferring to other fields, which led to Schalker Eisenhütte consistently expanding its range of products to include multi-purpose service locomotives for urban rail transport systems, welding vehicles, rail grinding machines and platform vehicles, such as those produced for the Berlin public transport system (BVG). In record time, Schalke also built the “CargoTram” rail freight vehicle for the environmentally friendly and economical transportation of car parts to VW’s so-called “Gläserne Manufaktur” car plant in Dresden. Whether above ground or in the underground tunnels of major cities, customers benefit from Schalke’s main advantages: incredible flexibility in finding custom made solutions and experience that is closing in on 150 years.