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Does steam and diesel have a future?

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by 22A, Nov 8, 2021.

  1. 22A

    22A New Member

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    I start this thread at the risk off being called a doomsday merchant.
    Coming out of the COP26 conference we hear that coal is the most polluting form of fuel closely followed by diesel.
    If stringent measures are introduced to curb the use of coal and diesel oil for anything other than essential purposes, will our preserved locos become nothing more than static exhibits?

    Obviously I hope not, but given the thinking of some environmentalists.........................
     
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  2. Kylchap

    Kylchap Member

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    I think this is the elephant in the room that many of use choose to ignore. Steam locomotives are clearly very polluting, but the number of them operating in the UK is so small that I don't see them being banned while a strong following remains. It's more likely that coal will become increasingly expensive, maybe unavailable on a reliable basis. As enthusiasts there are a few things we can do, such as thinking twice about celebrating photos of locos churning out loads of clag.
     
  3. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

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    I doubt it. The backlash against all this green stuff is already brewing up now it is becoming apparent just how expensive "zero carbon" is going to be. The utter hypocrisy of the leaders attending this summit in their private jets while telling us we can't heat our homes or eat meat will have won them few friends. This article in the Economist may be of interest (for those who can't access it, the title is "An anti-green backlash could re-shape British politics") All this hysteria about it being the last minute to save the planet reminds me of the dancing mania of Strasbourg in 1518. Everybody joined in, it got more and more crazy then eventually fizzled out and normality returned.
     
  4. blink bonny

    blink bonny Well-Known Member

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  5. Cartman

    Cartman Well-Known Member

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    my opinion exactly. This green cult has turned into out of control mass hysteria.
     
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  6. 48624

    48624 New Member

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    Unfortunately, it is anti green sentiment that has delivered us to where we are today. There has been nothing but backlash against the environmental movement since it began just because people are reluctant to accept the changes that are needed and the fossil fuel companies have been in control for too long. As much as I love steam locos, I'd much rather my family can grow up in a clean sustainable environment.
     
  7. brennan

    brennan New Member

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    Beware of man speaking with forked tongue etc. Politicians tell you what you want to hear.

    I wondered when someone would be bold enough to broach the subject of the environment and the current pandemonium. The abovementioned bill may not apply to steam locos but there is plenty of current legislation that can . Much of it depends on the whim of the local Environmental Health Dept. the mindset of local councillors, the vociferousness of any local "green" pressure groups and the people living cheek-by-jowl with the place where the love of your life is lit up. All of these can make life very difficult indeed.

    Leaving this to one side , as if not problem enough, coal will be an ongoing issue as supplies dwindle, the quality deteriorates ( steam locos run on steam coal, anything less will cause unhappiness to the crew, the firebox, the grate and the tubes) and the price increases as economies of scale for imported deliveries are lost. Another question is who will want to be a coal merchant? Hardly a career with a future. "Stove Gove" may have gone quiet at present but be there no misunderstanding, he's committed to stopping the burning of solid fuels of any kind. Heritage railways may get a derogation from the regulations but if there's no coal that is suitable or affordable , there's no railway. Wood chip won't work.

    With regard to diesels , well, revelling in the "clag" as an English Electric is started on a cold day or roars out of a station will be a thing of the past.

    So, make the most of it as the writing is on the wall. I wouldn't be spending my time or money on any replicas as the chances are these will go straight into a museum.
     
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  8. 2995valliant

    2995valliant New Member

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    Diesels will run without modification on HVO (even EE dinosaurs...) and I suspect some if not all steam locos will end up being converted to oil firing using HVO as well. Currently it's 15p a litre more than red, so not prohibitively expensive.

    One big practical advantage HVO has over the current B7 diesel is that it will store for about 10 years so it's ideal in preserved diesels that don't run great mileages beween refills compared to B7 which has shelf life of about 12 months.
     
  9. 242A1

    242A1 Well-Known Member

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    The Philips Experimental House Research dates from 1974 and you can read about it in a paper by Dr. Bernd Steinmuller.

    The main modelling work was conducted between 1977 and 1982 and the project came to an end in 1983/4.

    The result of this work was that heating requirements could be cut down by a factor of between 10 and 20.

    I was studying building during a part of the period in question and there was a great deal of interest shown in this work but there was no will on the part of either the construction industry or within political circles to take this work seriously and react to it positively.

    In 1974 279,640 properties were built in the UK between Private Enterprise, Housing Associations and Local Authorities. In 1983 209,030 were completed and in 2019 214,200. Since the experiment was concluded some 7.4 million properties have been completed whose energy efficiency rating lies far below the standards set in the late 70s and early 80s. So why did this happen?

    Reduced energy consumption is good for the end user but not good for the energy provider. The answer sadly is the all too common "follow the money". Equally the construction industry were going to be forced to change in order to implement the new way of doing things and that brought about costs what with new training being required and the need to use somewhat different materials.

    You then have to look at your energy sources. Fusion was being talked about but was far over the horizon and it still is. Fission worked and would do so 24/7. Some of the alternatives being considered took up too much land to the point where the question of where we would live and how would we eat became a concern. The wind turbine generators available when we were looking into this would never repay the energy used in their construction and installation within their projected lifetime - and some maintain the same is true now.

    One thing you can be sure of, nothing will change until enough money can be made out of the change and the contributors to the forum won't be the ones making the money.
     
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  10. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    LPG Conversions for both steam and diesel shouldn’t be too much of a technological headache.
     
  11. Footbridge

    Footbridge Member

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    How long before some 'activists' sit on the line of a preserved railway blocking it?
    More then just disruptive if a steamer can't access a water supply for hours.
     
  12. SomeWeeb

    SomeWeeb New Member

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    yes, but then people will say they ruined it. its a lose-lose overall. you can never win.
     
  13. andykeithharris

    andykeithharris New Member

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    Oh dear officer, the rails were wet and I couldn't stop in time...
     
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  14. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Point of order: That merely exchanges one hydrocarbon for another.

    My own suspicion is that, providing decarbonisation of the wider economy is finally taken seriously, the comparatively few active steamers won't be too much of an issue, though some "carbon neutral" fuel will likely be needed, if for no other reason than coal extraction looks set for a decidedly finite lifespan. From what I've seen, torrified pellets and biogas look the most promising alternatives.

    Ironically, I'd reckon keeping our diesels going will prove the bigger challenge. Again with the caveat frontline ICE gives way to one or other from of electric traction, bio-diesel (from waste) obviously springs to mind.
     
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  15. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Counter point; it assumes that the burning of hydrocarbons for heritage purposes is still allowed, but that the minimal quantities of coal required are not economically viable for any supplier.
    Diesels will be easier with either LPG a conversions or using the waste from the local chippy, suitably filtered.
     
  16. jnc

    jnc Part of the furniture

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    It's truly a pity that when these idiots glue their faces to the road, we can't just .. .. .. leave them there for several days.

    Noel
     
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  17. maddog

    maddog New Member

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  18. Phill S

    Phill S New Member

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    TBH, I think there'll be far bigger issues that will eventually knacker heritage as we know it (not just railways).
    Think how incredible it is that as huge an undertaking as a steam railway can be funded, built, maintained and operated on volunteers and peoples spare cash. (Yes, some lines have staff, they do a grand job, but they'd not run it on their own). These are undertakings that, even 100 years ago, required a complex business to run, had to sweat the assets to be viable, and that's before you consider that keeping everyone alive and unmaimed each day was kinda optional. Imagine if, in 150 years time, a group of old folks in a shed successfully built and flew a replica Falcon 9?
    Has there ever been a point in history where the masses have such disposable income and time to do something like rail preservation as a hobby? The riches we enjoy today are a huge historical anomaly, and there's already signs of it changing. Discussions around the poor pay, poor pensions and expensive housing have been done to death, but you get the idea.

    Alternatively-this could be the era when electric traction preservation finally comes of age. Maybe the railways that have allowed a haven for third rail stock will be laughing their bottoms off by 2030? I'm just glad the two lines I volunteer at are a tramway and battery mine loco based :D
     
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  19. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Answering the last question, it might - but that will depend on whether preservationists and their customers are interested in trains, or just certain types of trains. I would certainly find a trip to (say) NYMR diminished if it lost the sound and (to a lesser extent) smell of steam or diesel.
     
  20. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Counter-counterpoint. True, but my own feeling is that continued operation is a realistic proposition ..... with the proviso our movement acts sooner rather than later, as opposed to waiting to be forced to react when the clock has nearly counted down to the 'net zero' deadline. In earnest I ask, how does anyone envisage things turning out otherwise? The notion of fighting some lengthy rearguard action which will ultimately fail, due as much to a lack of official and/or public goodwill as to anything else, isn't a scenario I find remotely appealing.

    Something which can't be overstated is that there's a key distinction to be drawn between those hydrocarbons sourced from fossil fuels (i.e. coal, shale, oil, gas etc) and those fuels from "carbon neutral" sources (i.e. vegetative growth, recycled waste cooking oils) which are readily replenished. If some bright spark comes up with some practical means of harvesting oceanic algal blooms and converting them to fuel, which I understand is being investigated, that would add to options.

    Any suggestion to use LPG, which is, by definition, derived from fossil sources (Liquified Petroleum Gas) will meet with no more favour than coal or oil. Regarding conversion of waste cooking oils to gas, yes it's possible, but why? Converting it to liquid fuel is already done commercially, which is a far less energy intensive process. We've buses, operating regular routes in Brighton which use the stuff and have for more than a decade and no, they don't smell like a mobile chip van.
     

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