Overhead mining railways are usually equipped with a friction wheel drive in underground use. This drive has the advantage over a gear drive that it is more robust and therefore more economic. However, it produces unsatisfactory running for difficult sections with steep gradients up or down or places where deposits of grease and dirt are inevitable. It is proposed to change over to a gear drive at such sections. The high degree of wear, which is characteristic of this type of drive, can be reduced if the drive is only used in difficult sections. It is proposed that the gear drive should be automatically switched on and off by means of stops or contacts on the rails.