Tornado...why bother?

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Tornado...why bother?

Postby Semaphore Sam » Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:07 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BUs5eEyEPI

I'm with Mr. Matthews on this...steam had its place; valuable and honourable as it was, resources should be put on the future. This is back-looking, and repugnant. You have old engines, for nostalgia, don't waste resources on re-inventing the wheel. Sam
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby johnthefireman » Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:06 am

I seem to recall that a good few years ago there was quite a debate within the UK heritage rail community about building prestige locos such as Tornado. Whether anyone likes it or not, heritage steam is now an important tourist, leisure and entertainment industry, so the question was how best to continue, given that many of the locomotives still in use have passed their century and the newest are over fifty years old. They won't last for ever, or at least if they do they will be increasingly expensive to maintain and operate, and probably increasingly unreliable. So assuming that some new builds are necessary in order to keep the industry going, what would be the best new locomotives to build?

One argument was that the main part of the industry is short branch lines usually only a few miles long with a maximum speed limit of 25 mph and very light trains of four or five coaches. They don't need fast and heavy duty locos. It was suggested that a tried and tested 0-6-0 tank engine should be selected as a standard design, modernised (possibly with the option of producing a tender version as well) and then produced in bulk (thus making it cheaper to build) in order to satisfy the foreseeable traffic demands on Britain's heritage railway lines. This plan would meet the needs of those non-purists who see heritage railways as a tourist, leisure and entertainment industry, whose punters don't know or care what is hauling their train as long as it produces smoke and makes a choo-choo noise.

On the other hand, there are the purists for whom the loco must be authentic, and must be hauling coaches of the same authenticity on a railway that looks like 1940s south western England (or whatever). They would reject the generic 0-6-0T because their interest is in preserving genuine items, just as the British Museum might reject a 20th century copy of an ancient artefact.

Then there are those involved in the main line charter industry, which can also be quite lucrative. It seems that all over the world luxury trains are making a comeback. With the privatised railway system in UK, you can run your charter train on Network Rail metals as long as you jump through all the hoops with safety cases and everything. One of the big challenges is finding paths for charter trains on the increasingly crowded network, and paying the compensation costs if your train causes delays, so speed and reliability are of the essence. Hence there is a commercial case for building new main line steam locos, as the last surviving one (9F Evening Star) is now 67 years old, and anyway that was not a high speed loco. The high speed A3 and A4 locos (one of which recently achieved 94 mph) are much older. David Wardale (surely the greatest living steam engineer) argued for building a completely new locomotive, based on some of the best of the existing designs. He produced detailed designs for his 125 mph 5AT, but couldn't make the commercial case for it. The Tornado project, to build a loco of which no originals survived, attracted private funding, as, apparently, have two separate new projects to build a P2. So the main line steam charter industry now has at least one brand new, reliable and fast locomotive as its flagship, with a couple more to follow soon.

One might also add that the main line excursions of both the old locos such as Flying Scotsman and new ones like Tornado are good publicity for the railway heritage industry as a whole - not only main line charters but the 90 or more heritage branch line operations in UK as well as the increasingly popular classic traction industry (ie preserved diesel and electric traction).

So while I understand your view, I think the heritage rail industry is more complex than you envisage, and there are commercial as well as emotional reasons for building a limited number of new steam locomotives.
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby george matthews » Mon Jun 05, 2017 5:44 am

One of the largest and most dangerous problems we face at present is the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Make no mistake the climate change this causes is catastrophic. We must not do anything to make it worse. Playing with steam engines may seem to be a small factor in it but I don't think should be encouraged.

To be positive about this I think there's a promising aim we could encourage. Let's propose that the Saudis should develop very large scale solar energy and aim to export energy from it to enable them to close down their damaging oil industry.
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby johnthefireman » Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:31 am

At the risk of repeating a conversation we have had often before and still disagree about, there are only a handful of main line certified steam locomotives in the UK, which run on only a handful of days in the year. Their contribution to global CO2 is infinitesimal.
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby george matthews » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:19 am

johnthefireman wrote:At the risk of repeating a conversation we have had often before and still disagree about, there are only a handful of main line certified steam locomotives in the UK, which run on only a handful of days in the year. Their contribution to global CO2 is infinitesimal.

But their contribution in the past was very large.
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby scottychaos » Mon Jun 05, 2017 12:58 pm

george matthews wrote:But their contribution in the past was very large.


Since it's no longer the past, that is now totally irrelevant.

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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby johnthefireman » Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:00 pm

george matthews wrote:But their contribution in the past was very large.


Sorry, but I really don't see the relevance of that remark. This thread is not about the past, it is about a single newly-built steam locomotive named Tornado which is operating in 2017, and I have introduced the possibility of two or three more new locomotives, eg a couple of P2s, which might follow within the next few years. I have broadened it to include the handful of existing main line certified heritage steam locomotives which operate occasionally. What happened in the past when tens of thousands of steam locomotives were operating on a daily basis is in the past and will remain in the past, so it's a bit of a red herring to keep referring to it.

Edited to add: My post crossed with Scot's - I am in 100% agreement with him.
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby David Benton » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:34 pm

To the original question, its probably cheaper to build an all new locomotive than restore an old one.
While I believe this was done in England, I wonder how long it will be before Asia starts belting out replicas of historic machinery.

To George's concern, I tend to agree with John and Scot, no point in bringing up the past. However , I also think its a viewpoint the steam community need to take note of, more and more young people will view steam as dirty relics of the past. Some measures , such as carbon offsetting or use of biofuels needs to be undertaken in the future.
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:57 pm

Some years ago a group in Switzerland converted a steam locomotive to burn some sort of oil (vegetable? ethanol? I don't remember) for excursions, and ran it, and it occurs to me now that I haven't heard anything more since then. Has there been any more news about it in Europe?
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby george matthews » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:28 pm

ExCon90 wrote:Some years ago a group in Switzerland converted a steam locomotive to burn some sort of oil (vegetable? ethanol? I don't remember) for excursions, and ran it, and it occurs to me now that I haven't heard anything more since then. Has there been any more news about it in Europe?

There is a report of a sugar estate in the Philippines that has a steam locomotive that runs on sugar cane stems, after the sugar has been extracted. That would not increase the CO2 in the atmosphere.
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby johnthefireman » Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:31 pm

It wouldn't be too difficult, I think, to run existing low-performance locomotives on a short low-speed branch line on almost anything that burns in solid form, including wood and other biomass, without any real modifications. Cost might be an issue as they might run less efficiently, and they might use more of substitute fuels than coal, but most of them are working well within their design capacity and could still do the job required of them even if less efficiently. Obviously converting a loco to run on a liquid such as ethanol would be a different matter as it would need all the kit to get the liquid into the firebox as on a current oil-burner locomotive.

However a finely-tuned high-performance main line locomotive running close to its design capacity would be a different matter. I doubt whether Tornado could run at 100 mph, thus maintaining its path on the main line network, on anything except good quality steam coal without major redesign and conversion.

Again I would ask, why bother? If there were going to be hundreds of such locomotives running regularly then certainly their CO2 contribution would be an issue. But in fact there are only a handful operating very occasionally, so there are many far more significant sources of CO2 in the world to prioritise for reduction.
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby David Benton » Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:01 am

As with anything, John , perception often counts for more than reality. Coal is seen as dirty, biomass etc clean. I have to admit it would be more of a publicity stunt than a meaningful contribution to co2 reduction.

Another thought occurred to me , Did Britain have many oil fired steam engines?. I don't recall many, whereas here all steam engines were oil burners towards the end.
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby johnthefireman » Wed Jun 07, 2017 4:30 am

Britain had very few oil-fired steam locos, and most of those were conversions during the war, as far as I can recall. With the abundance of cheap coal and no domestic sources of oil (this was long before North Sea oil), oil firing never looked attractive either economically or practically. South Africa and Zimbabwe were the same. Kenya, on the other hand, used oil burners from a very early stage, as there was no coal. Funnily enough coal has now been discovered near or maybe just offshore of the Kenyan coast, and I believe a coal-fired power station is scheduled to be built.
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby george matthews » Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:18 am

I believe a coal-fired power station is scheduled to be built.


I am sorry to hear that. Coal should stay in the ground, doing the job of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.
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Re: Tornado...why bother?

Postby george matthews » Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:19 am

David Benton wrote:As with anything, John , perception often counts for more than reality. Coal is seen as dirty, biomass etc clean. I have to admit it would be more of a publicity stunt than a meaningful contribution to co2 reduction.

Another thought occurred to me , Did Britain have many oil fired steam engines?. I don't recall many, whereas here all steam engines were oil burners towards the end.

Burning oil has the same bad effects as burning coal.
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