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Bluebell Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Jamessquared, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    In the most recent edition of Atlantic News where the E class (and alternatives) were discussed, the additional cost of a superheated boiler relative to an unsuperheated one was given as "£100 - £200k off the build cost and a huge amount off ongoing maintenance". That build cost is not only in the superheater header (a very complicated casting) but also in the superheater elements, which are complex bits of equipment, particularly when multiplied up by the numbers required. The additional maintenance costs are primarily that superheater elements periodically develop leaks and need repairing or replacing, which is not only a cost, but also takes the loco out of traffic while repairs are effected. A set of replacement tubes, flues and elements is also more expensive at each boiler overhaul than the slightly larger number of tubes needed for an equivalent size unsuperheated boiler.

    To set against that - doing some rough calculations based on how much coal we use, and how much superheating might save, my best case scenario is that it would take between 275,000 and 550,000 miles running to save £100-£200k in coal at current prices. Given that 50,000 miles between heavy overhauls would be good going for a pre-grouping loco, that is between at least 6 and 12 heavy overhauls; to all intents and purposes, a period so far in the future as to be beyond any valid prediction as to what might be happening by then.

    One of the other locos that was seriously considered, though ultimately rejected, was an LB&SCR I3 tank engine - had that been chosen, almost certainly it would have been built as one of the unsuperheated members of the class, somewhat ironic given what that class was famous for!

    Tom
     
  2. ady

    ady New Member

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    If you were so worried about super heaters and the like about how complicated Brighton engines were why did you build Beachy Head in the first place?
     
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  3. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Another infrastructure update covering the work at Three Arch Bridge. Interestingly, there is a plan to extend the work by another 5 panels (i.e. 100 yards, making 620 yards in total). That length will take the work out of the cutting and into the beginnings of the sweeping right hand curve that leads to Horsted Keynes.

    https://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/bluebell/ext/inf_news.html

    Tom
     
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  4. JMJR1000

    JMJR1000 Member

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    I'd say the short (and pretty simple) answer to that question would be that they had a major component already to hand from the get go, being a virtually identical boiler to what the Brighton Atlantics used.

    It mustn't be understated just how much money and work the boiler's existence saved the team, as I'd imagine such an item would not come cheap if built from scratch instead.
     
  5. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Is a superheater really over £100000.

    I can imagine that they are not that cheap, but thats pricey
     
  6. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    Whilst I am in full support of your basic argument regarding the sensibility of using a saturated loco on a heritage railway,I do think that the figures have been conjured up to support it. You could probably build the whole boiler for £200K.
     
  7. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

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    Having read both Tom's posts in this thread and also the reporting of the new build E Class elsewhere, it is apparent that a great deal of thought has gone into the choice of this engine as the follow-on project from Beachy Head. Although some people may point out that a large-wheeled 4-4-0 is not perhaps the most ideal loco for heritage line use, given the 25mph top speed, in every other way, the choice of an E Class is a case of practicalities winning over idealism. First and foremost, some of the team on the Beachy Head project aren't exactly spring chickens. If they are going to tackle another new build, it's only natural that they would wish to see it complete. Given that LB&SCR locos are rather complex machines (As they have all learnt from building an H2 Atlantic!) then it makes sense to try something simpler and quicker to build. If ever there is a new-build L&SWR project, it would make more sense for it to be based at the the Mid Hants or Swanage Railways and with so much experience with SE&CR locos at Sheffield Park and indeed, some spare parts available to kick-start the project, a Wainwright loco is the obvious choice. With three 0-6-0 tanks already based on the Bluebell plus an 0-4-4 tank and an 0-6-0 tender engine (along with a second 0-6-0 which is probably more Wainwright than Stirling), you are left with either the not terribly well known J Class 0-6-4T or a 4-4-0. I think it's a generally held opinion (i.e., not just my own thoughts) that the Ds had the edge on the Es for good looks, but even though 737 is unlikely ever to turn a wheel again under its own steam, the fact is that we have a D Class but no E.

    So although I was initially disappointed that a K was rejected and an original E chosen rather than an E1 (one of the finest of all pre-grouping 4-4-0s in my opinion), I have been won over to this project and hope I will be able to make a financial contribution towards it. I do wonder (although I don't know any of the Beachy Head team personally) whether an E may not have initially been their first choice either. However, I'm quite sure that everyone will be totally bowled over when a gleaming 4-4-0 in lined SE&CR livery pulls out of Sheffield Park with six pre-grouping compartment coaches in tow.

    Still, that's for the future. We've got Beachy Head to look forward to first. Indeed, if all goes well, 2021 could be quite a year for fans of pre-grouping Southern express steam with the Atlantic hopefully ready to run on the Bluebell along with the T3 at Swanage.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
  8. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    nine elms fan and Johnme101 like this.
  9. ady

    ady New Member

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    I know I going be seen as bad tempted again; but when I expressed my fear in the 'Atlantic' Thread that the only chance for any for a K class new-build was now dead, I was told patronisingly that someone else at Bluebell Railway might build one in the future; the totally negativity on the LB&SCR design choices and the way they did things displayed in this thread, isn't building my confidence that maybe in 20 years times a project might start... and no other railway apart from the Bluebell would want one. I still can't believe its been dumped...
     
  10. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Actually it sounds as if the "Friends of William Pickersgill" have a Sussex branch. If simplicity and suitability for 25m.p.h. running plus authenticity for a Brighton branch line were a priority then a C2x suggests itself. That is if a newbuild rather than a rebuild of a sidelined machine is a priority.
     
  11. ady

    ady New Member

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    what? What the hell has that got what I was talking about?
     
  12. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Frankly, the Bluebell has had very little in common with an "authentic" Brighton branch line for many years, now. It is a primarily commercial operation which just happens to be based on one. (Apologies for the harshness of that remark to Society members, of which I happen to be one)
     
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  13. torgormaig

    torgormaig Well-Known Member

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    Disagree with you completely - it is not "a primarily commercial operation". Like most heritage railways it is primarily a preservation operation which lives in the real world and therefore has to be commercial to survive. It is an authentic entity in itself and the Brighton branch line is just part of its history.

    Peter
     
  14. 60044

    60044 Member

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    Most heritage railways are heavily biased in favour of the steam locomotives and buildings, the other rolling stock is very much an afterthought. Whilst I understand the necessity of using Mk1s for most services, it disappoints me that some railways don't even aspire to being able to operate a more interesting selection of coaches on occasion. I've given up supporting the NYMR after 45 years as a volunteer because of their attitude to vintage stock. The teak train is only used because there aren't enough caches otherwise, and they would far rather is was composed solely of open thirds and a buffet car. If they had more Mk 1 open thirds it would probably parkedbecause the railway is now a park and ride facility for Whitby, masquerading as a heritage railway.
     
  15. bluetrain

    bluetrain Member

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    And rightly so, given the contribution of Mr Pickersgill to the Southern locomotive fleet.

    http://www.semgonline.com/steam/g_class.html
     
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  16. torgormaig

    torgormaig Well-Known Member

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    Again, I couldn't disagree more. Would you have preferred that the NYMR only ran from Grosmont to Ellerbeck as origionally intended.? You can harp back to some fantasy era all you like but this is unlikely to be replicated to your satisfaction as we are now in the 2020's not the 1930's. The NYMR is a valid heritage entity in its own right - it is an analgam of the steam railway era and I feel that it does what it does rather well. It certainly is not a park and ride facility for Whitby, taking at least 2 hours to get there from Pickering when the bus does it in about half an hour. It is used as a liesure experience not a transport one. While there is a certain charm about vintage coaches many of them are not that comfortable - and I include some of your beloved Gresleys among them -for a long journey. Lets face it the dear old BR Mark 1 coach is the best all round multi purpose design ever built and without a doubt the bedrock of the heritage railway movement as we know it. People often comment about where we would be without the Barry saga providing so many locos for us, but even more so where would we be without Mark 1 coaches? People like compartment coaches provided they do not have to share them with others. Open stock has long been recognised as preperable for tourist trains and are ideal for the NYMR's operation. The BR designation of these was TSO - Tourist Second Open - so their use was recognised back in the steam era. Yes the NYMR has to be commercial as well as historical and that is not an easy balance to achieve. Being commercial means reducing costs and maximising revenue as best you can and if this is done by using Mark 1 coaches rather than Gresley ones so be it. Gresleys are a luxery while Mark1s are a necessity in this context. There is room for both but the necessity has to have priority for the railway to survive.

    Sorry, Tom, for taking your thread to the NYMR - back to Bluebell now.

    Peter
     
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  17. 60044

    60044 Member

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    Re-read my post. I don't have a problem with Mk1s but as you say, there is a balance to be struck, and imho the balance is tilted too far the wrong way at the moment. Whitby should not be the be all and end all. The railway did very well before it extended to Whitby and it is debatable whether the promised benefits have outweighed the disadvantages and costs of doing so.

    My point in regard to the Bluebell is to be wary of commercialism, there will always be those for whom Mk1s represent the easy way of doing things and will prefer them for that reason, even on the Bluebell.
     
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  18. toplight

    toplight Member

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    I find it a real disappointment when railways which do have historic coaches don't use them. I went to the Bluebell on the 5th Oct. I knew there wasn't an event on but we were dropping someone off at Gatwick that morning so went around 11am for a ride with my family afterwards. You think with all those historic coaches/trains they have, wonder what they are running ?

    Yep only one train running, Mark 1s and a BR 2-6-4 tank. (Just one Bulleid coach in the train).

    Riding in the historic coaches should be a real selling point for railways like the Bluebell. It is something they can offer that lots of railways just can't. It is that 'extra' that they have, over many other lines.

    It was also quite surprising just how few visitors there was. We parked at Horsted Keynes and seemed practically nobody there, just a few staff on duty.

    The attitude above with the Mark 1 TSO is just to treat it as a basic as possible 'wagon' to contain the punters, give 'em a quick train ride then off home. People are travelling for the experience, not just to go from A to B.
     
  19. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Well-Known Member

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    Whilst understanding what you and others say I think we tend to miss what non railway enthusiasts perceive as Vintage.
    I have heard here in Swanage a number of comments similar to "that is the sort of coach I used to go to work/school in". I am always surprised even having been a mainline steward for nearly 15 years how many "normal passengers" rave over the opulence of a First Class Mk1. Although I guess if you are stuck on a Pacer or a 455 or a 158 or such is it not surprising really. Even most new trains seem less comfortable that what they replace.
    I love Bulleid coaches, and the Met set or the N Staffs set at Foxfield, but less face it we may all suffer the ride, Joe Public may well find them uncomfortable.
    They are also valuable historically assets so why wear them out on quiet days.
    I also believe any "Division 1" line needs to be Commercial first in its thinking, otherwise no money will be left to allow use the things we like.
     
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  20. 60044

    60044 Member

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    ...... but in order to use the "things we like" they have to be there in the first place! Generally speaking, these items are restored by separate groups so all the railway concerned has to do is reach agreement to use them, and from the owners point of view it is no disadvantage if the are only used on special occasions as that means less wear and tear.
     
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