SCHÖMA celebrates 80 years of success - TunnelTalk
COMPANY NEWS 80 years of SCHÖMA loco success Dec 2010
SCHÖMA News Release
From the Channel Tunnel achievement of the 1980s to the Gotthard Baseline railway tunnels of the 2000s, SCHÖMA locomotives have been the reliable workhorses for rail transport systems on so many tunnelling projects around the world. For 80 years the company's trademark equipment has been seen at the head of supply trains, pulling on gradients as steep as 4%. With its 80th anniversary celebrated in 2010, the company looks forward to meeting the demands and particular requirements of rail transportation systems on tunnelling projects of the future.

The locomotive manufacturer of international distinction, SCHÖMA Christoph Schöttler Maschinenfabrik GmbH, is celebrating its 80th anniversary. We assume that a lot of people and companies in the tunnelling business know us as a specialist to provide rail-bound traction solutions for all kinds of applications. On projects where rail-bound transport equipment is used, there are not many projects worldwide that do not use our machines.
SCHÖMA is a mid-sized company with about 140 employees, located in the Northern part of Germany not too far away from the ports of Bremerhaven or Hamburg. Due to the size of the company and efficient management decisions and changes can be made very fast and in a flexible way, in order to offer the optimum solutions for our customers.
It is our philosophy to provide German engineering and high quality products. For that reason we still do manufacturing purely in our factory in Germany. It is highly important for us to offer very reliable and fast after-sales-service worldwide.
SCHÖMA is still a family-owned business, currently in the third generation. Besides tunnelling locomotives we manufacture service and shunting locomotives as well as narrow gauge locomotives for special purposes such as transport of peat or sugar cane or for passenger transport in amusement parks or tourist railway lines.
Diesel-hydraulic for the Gotthard Baseline Tunnel in Switzerland

Diesel-hydraulic for the Gotthard Baseline Tunnel in Switzerland

80 years in business - what does that mean? It is a long time. In human life not everybody reaches this age. For a company it is an indication of long tradition that may be characterized by good and bad times. A lot of things can happen, including economic crisis, total change of the market situation and the products, long term personnel leaving and new colleagues joining.
During such a long period it is always important to check the foundation structure and developments with the requirements of the market. A lot of companies, also with long tradition, have vanished because they failed to make necessary changes or adapted too late. We have always been a manufacturer of locomotives and special railway equipment starting in the early days with light locomotives with low power engines used for material transportation especially in peat fields.
In the 1970s mechanised tunnelling with TBMs provided a new demand especially for road and railway tunnels through the mountains to improve the infrastructure in Austria and Switzerland.
Following this, and a particular company highlight certainly, is construction of the Channel Tunnel in the late 1980s. Originally it had been planned to use electric batteries on overhead power catenaries for the construction rail transportation inside the tunnel. This system was not really suitable for this project and it was decided to use diesel locomotives instead. Starting with second hand locomotives from previous projects in Switzerland, SCHÖMA consequently built more than 100 tunnel locomotives to supply both the French and the English sides of the tunnelling works. This gigantic project is one of the milestones in our history to make SCHÖMA so well known as a specialist supplier of tunnelling locomotives. The Channel Tunnel was in such a demand for locomotives that a bonus was granted for every week earlier with deliveries. Nowadays only penalties for late deliveries are common.
Shunting locomotive at a cement plant in South Korea

Shunting locomotive at a cement plant in South Korea

In the early 1990s metro projects started to be excavated using TBMs. Typically the stations are at a higher elevation than the running tunnels with gradients of 4% very usual. Standard tunnel locomotives were not able to haul heavy trains fully loaded with the excavated material on these grades. For these projects SCHÖMA developed a special traction system consisting of hydrostatic locomotives connected with a self-propelled platform car designed to carry material containers of muck, grout and concrete. This means that the material payload is used to increase the adhesion of the train and no additional locomotives have to be added. The investment cost as well as the fuel consumption is reduced significantly as a result.
To synchronize two or more propelled vehicles it was necessary to use a computer supported control system. SCHÖMA started these developments in the early 1990s and has improved the plc-based control systems continuously to ensure the optimum traction and braking performance as well as reduce to a minimum fuel consumption and exhaust emissions of the diesel engine.
The next milestone in the tunnelling history was set in the early 2000s when the excavation of the Gotthard baseline railway tunnel started. SCHÖMA supplied about 120 tunnelling locomotives to the various joint ventures in this project. Due to heavy loads of about 600 tonne and a maximum travel distance of about 30km, very powerful locomotives were needed for this project.

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