Waggonbau Graaff GmbH, a subsidiary of VTG AG, has a made a name for itself as a professional, innovative and high-quality manufacturer of rail freight wagons.


Tradition for more than a century: Waggonbau Graaff ranks among Germany’s most venerable and experienced manufacturers of rail freight wagons. Discover the milestones in our long and fascinating corporate history.

The story began in 1914 with the repair of railway wagons. The nucleus of the company was in Elze, near Hanover in Germany.

Two entrepreneurs, Abraham Holländer and Karl Heine, bought a plot of land in Elze and set up a repair workshop for railway wagons. During the First World War, it became a supplier and repair shop for the defense industry.


An early turning point in the company’s history came when the production of tank cars was launched in 1921. This new line quickly grew to become an important field of business.

The company expanded its portfolio in 1921, complementing its repair services with the series production of tank cars. Two years later, the founder also decided to manufacture luggage cars.


In the 1930s, the wagon builder expanded its network of business contacts and started to manufacture tramcars.

In 1936, the company was licensed as a supplier to the Deutsche Reichsbahn, Germany’s national rail carrier. Until the early 1940s, Waggonbau Graaff also manufactured tramcars for the cities of Hanover, Hildesheim, Minden, Pforzheim and Celle.


Waggonbau Graaff considerably extended its portfolio in the post-war years.

From 1950 onwards, freight wagons for German and foreign railway companies were also produced, in addition to special tank cars for the transport of chemical products.


International demand for freight wagons “made in Elze” rose sharply in the early 1960s.

In 1962, the company employed around 600 people and reported an annual revenue of DM 20 million. Rail freight wagons produced in Elze were shipped as far as Switzerland, Australia, India, Mozambique and Turkey.


Through the 1990s and into the early 2000s, Waggonbau Graaff consistently expanded its portfolio of freight wagons in line with customer demand.

In  the early 1990s, the Elze-based company added to its wagon production portfolio by developing and building its own high-quality refrigerated wagons to carry foodstuffs. Several more development and construction projects followed:

  • Shimmns coil transport wagons with tarpaulin covers (1996)
  • Wagons to carry cars and trucks to the German island of Sylt (on the Sylt Shuttle, 2000)
  • Silo wagons with stainless steel containers to carry foodstuffs (2002)
VTG Aktiengesellschaft bought the Graaff Group’s wagon building operations.

In 2008, VTG snapped up Graaff’s wagon building business, thus securing production capacity for its own rail freight wagons – especially tank cars, for which demand was brisk.


VTG made good use of the wagon builder’s technical expertise and made it the Group’s innovation think tank in 2009.

Waggonbau Graaff became the VTG Group’s innovation platform. Keen to draw on the wagon builder’s wealth of experience in developing special freight wagons, VTG was now able to quickly implement its own innovations, respond to individual customer requests and develop customised models. In 2010, Waggonbau Graaff also launched the development of high-grade tank car valves.


The wagon manufacturer continued to increase its production capacity.

In 2014, a new tank production facility went into service at Graaff.


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