Heritage Railway

Britain’s energy policy is ‘out of step’


THANKS for publishing my letter in issue 290. Apparently more coal was consumed to produce electricit­y worldwide last year than any previous year, which rather illustrate­s the extent to which British energy policy is out of step with elsewhere. If so much coal is being mined, then you would have thought that some would be suitable for locomotive use? If not, we have to hope that the trial of Homefire Ecoal, which has just taken place at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (News, page 14), is successful.

I read Eddie Draper’s letter a couple of times as I was unsure whether to take it seriously or whether it should have been in the April edition. Yes, steam locomotive­s do have poor efficiency. However, the most eminent minds over the last century have not managed to change this to any great extent.

Indeed, the complexity of higher pressures and compoundin­g have largely been unjustifie­d.

The idea of volunteers working with a very high-pressure experiment­al locomotive is not, in my view, something that could be contemplat­ed from a safety aspect. The poor efficiency of steam locomotive­s is partly mitigated by steel wheels on steel rails and well-engineered routes that keep gradients to a minimum, as my letter explained.

In terms of new build, there is a lot to be said for building practical locomotive­s such as BR Standard 3MT 2-6-2T No. 82045 – maybe more if it proves successful in hauling the heaviest trains at Bridgnorth.

Personally I should like to see the extra power and simplicity of a Fowler 2-6-4T as the next newbuild project; one which would fill a considerab­le hole in the history of LMS and BR locomotive design developmen­t.

David Smith, Sheffield

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