The AG used the EA 1000, which Henschel had built in 1966, for use on electrified lines and with a battery. They were similar to a conventional diesel shunter, but had a pantograph on the cab roof. When the demand came for a significantly more powerful locomotive that only had to work under the catenary, Henschel developed the E 1200. Since the three-phase current technology had already been tested on a diesel-electric DE 2500, it was also used here to achieve the required performance.
The first six locomotives were delivered in 1976 and boasted a very good starting tractive effort of 330 kN for a four-axle locomotive. To gain knowledge for the new high-power locomotive of the class 120, a vehicle was brought to Austria in 1979, where test runs were undertaken on the Semmeringbahn, among other places. A further seven machines were delivered to Ruhrkohle AG in 1984. The decommissioning took place between 2007 and 2017. Except for two pieces, which were given to museums in Koblenz-Lützel and Bochum, all were scrapped.