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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by gwr4090, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    On the costs point of view - I am assuming that out of use locos also have costs: insurance, etc and also need some attention ie greasing, protection against the elements etc. I'd assume (although happy to be corrected) the longer a loco is out of use the greater the costs of restoring/overhauling it, so I assume there has to be a tipping point where it is ultimately more expensive over the long term to have a loco out of use than it is to have it in use. (Obviously warm, dry storage lowers these costs but they require building and maintaining).
     
  2. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    On the RTC charter in July, it would be really helpful if someone with the knowledge on here could say how the WSR will haul this train to Minehead. The RTC has said that the day will involve steam on the main line and on the WSR so any talk of diesels may be relevant for what the WSR does on the day of the charter but not what will haul the charter.

    And given the expectations of people generally on visits to the WSR, whether the diagrammed loco (or locos) will haul the train without a diesel in the consist does seem a relevant question. After all, if you want to be propelled by a diesel then you can always go to other places.

    Normally heritage railways provide this information in advance for visiting charters as it must have been thought about so hopefully someone will oblige? Viability of the trip - i.e. whether it runs at all - may depend on it.
     
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  3. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    This is probably going well off topic for the WSR and might warrant its own thread. But ...

    The immovable object in loco provision is the need for regular (ca. 10-yearly) boiler inspection, which generally requires a boiler lift at a minimum. So whereas a cherished carriage could come out for very occasional use and, if kept under cover, could run almost indefinitely; for a loco once the ten years is up, it goes out of traffic. What happens to it then depends how it is laid up, how it is maintained cosmetically in the meantime and how it is stored: the ideal situation would be under cover storage, but very few - if any - places have sufficient storage for all their locos, both in traffic and stored.

    One of the key drivers of the loco cost for the railway is simply how many overhauls they have to do. For locos of comparable size, many of the tasks of an overhaul are the same regardless of the underlying condition: everything to do with stripping the loco down for overhaul; and building it back up again, has to happen regardless of what you do in between. Your ten thousand pound repaint has to occur whether the loco ran 80,000 miles since the last overhaul or 5,000. Hence the point about running lean. If the railway runs 40k steam miles per year and can do that with five locos averaging 8k miles per year, it needs to overhaul one loco every two years. If it uses ten locos averaging 4k miles per year it has to overhaul a loco every year, and those overhauls don't work out much cheaper than before, but you are doing twice as many of them. So the loco overhaul part of your per mile operating cost more or less doubles.

    The optimum situation financially would be to run as lean as possible; and to have good under cover storage facilities for the out-of-use fleet. The latter costs significant capital of course (and that capital has a cost - i.e. put up a nice storage building and you incur the depreciation costs on your balance sheet; and don't necessarily save equivalent depreciation costs on a fully-depreciated out of traffic loco in recompense). The former - run lean - isn't always in accord with enthusiast or member wishes, who generally want to see everything all the time.

    @Robin mentioned that through the 1980s the SVR averaged 14 locos in steam. The Bluebell at the same time peaked at 14, but typically averaged 11 or 12. Since then both railways, and I suspect most others in the sector, have seen a reduction in operational fleets and an increase in mileage between overhauls - it is the simple financial reality in an era where overhauls typically cost middling six figure sums for a reasonable sized tender loco. Few locos running high mileage is I think the future, certainly for the larger, longer lines.

    Tom
     
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  4. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    It is I suspect another thread and it would be interesting to compare approaches both contemporary and historical.

    Are there not some potential false economies in running lean? For example wouldn't higher mileage locomotives have higher overhaul costs than lower mileage locomotives - afterall they have worked harder and done more work.

    Also, if you have to do quick turnarounds because you are running lean this means you have to decide what can be done and what can be deferred. ie you have something that could be patched up or replaced. You can patched up which is quicker to do, but it means more work further down the road.

    Also, it tends to assume that locos will run their full allocation and won't have to be withdrawn early after six years due to say major firebox problems.

    I think that while some standard gauge lines did run with big fleets - not all did. MHR for example. Also the Welsh Narrow Gauge lines ran very lean in the 1970s and 80s and it led to a lot of burning of the midnight oil in order to keep their services going (it isn't like the FR or TR could hire in other locos) - which puts stress on the workforce and also other engines ie your small loco has to work more heavy trains or double head because bigger loco is out of use - which has a knock on effect on wear and tear.

    It is a fine line between over-abundance and having locos out of use for 15-20 years and running very lean and running into problems year in year out or setting yourself up for issues further down the line.
     
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  5. MarkinDurham

    MarkinDurham Member

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    Good question, particularly as I'm travelling on this particular RTC trip.

    Mark
     
  6. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Loco overhauls are horrendously cash consuming especially where contractors have to be used . Railways are becoming more astute at running lean fleets as the seek to optimise return from investments in overhauls . I don't see this changing anytime soon and may get worse which would have a profound implication on loco hire markets and the lines who rely on hiring in motive power
     
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  7. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Well-Known Member

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    There are some very good points being made but another factor, I think, is that in the 1980's there were fewer Heritage Railway operations, the supply of hulks from Barry was steady and the earlier "easy" ones were coming out of their initial return to steam overhauls. It will be very interesting to see how the locomotive supply situation will develop over the next two years as we move out of these present constrained times.
     
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  8. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    In the 70s and 80s many lines were also shorter - Bluebell being one example. Many lines did not run so often or so many trains. To take it back to the WSR, I can recall visiting when it was 1 steam loco and DMUs the rest of the time and there was a single steam train between Minehead and BL.

    Another factor is who is doing the funding/overhaul/restoration. Maybe you have a group that is willing to fund raise and then do a restoration/overhaul but you have to be prepared to accept that it may take 10-20 years depending on funding the group gets, their membership, age etc etc. For example LMS 5025 steamed for the first time this week after an overhaul that began in 2012 and was originally hoped to be completed by 2015. (Last ran 1994(?)) This is in no way a criticism of the group but just an example of how things can slip. I think it does matter to a certain extent because if in 2010 you are thinking about 5 or 10 year and you think you will have loco x available in 5 years time so therefore you can do a and b, but those plans can be disrupted and you could find yourself shorter than you expected if an overhaul takes longer than expected. (This goes for any overhaul if once you take the loco apart you find things are worse than you expected (Flying Scotsman says hi!))
     
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  9. torgormaig

    torgormaig Part of the furniture Friend

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    The other thing to consider is that 40 years or so ago, when some railways seemed to have an abundance of serviceable locos, many of these locos still had some serviceable life left in them. That even applies to Barry restoration jobs at that time. Most locos were withdrawn as surplus to requirement rather than being life expired. Even the Bluebell's first locos (55 and 323) were acquired as redundant BR stock and 488 was possibly the first near life expired loco they bought. Fast forward to the 2020s and things are very different now. The locos are older and, as there are fewer of them, they are covering greater mileages and needing more costly and intensive overhauls as major components wear out. Just one of the many challanges that lie ahead for the sustainability of operating steam railways.

    Peter
     
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  10. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    To that we can add that 40 years ago there were a lot of industrial locomotives around some of which also came fresh out of use or that could be quickly turned around compared to loco that had spent a decade in the open at Barry. I have a roster list from 1980 for the WSR and by my reckoning the working steam fleet was 6412, Victor and Vulcan. (I am happy to be corrected here).

    My impression from my 1980s guide is that the lines with an abundance of locos available were: SVR, Bluebell, NYMR, KVR, SDR/PDR, NVR, and then the sheds NRM, Steamtown, Dinting, Didcot. Most other lines seemed to be surviving thanks to industrials while they were establishing and extending their lines and restoring their ex-mainline locos.
     
  11. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    The industrials provided instant motive power but wasn’t ideal for the line. My dad visited back in the very early 80s and still talks to this day about how Victor or Vulcan (not sure which), struggled and had to stop for a blow up several times and ran incredibly late.
     
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  12. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    You asked the question whether higher mileage locos would entail higher costs than lower mileage locos. Because overhauls are effectively time based they are going to be overhauled every X years whatever mileage. Mechanically there will be some wear. Let’s say a bearing wears 0.010” for every 10,000 miles thus, if it had run 40,000 miles it would have worn 0.040” or 0.080” for 80,000 miles. That bearing needs re-metalling as part of the overhaul and the cost of doing so is exactly the same because exactly the same process has to be done. If you don’t do the mechanical overhaul because it hasn’t done enough mileage you are faced with the likelihood of having to do it part way through the next ‘ticket’ unless you restrict the mileage it is to be used for.
    The above applies to things that wear and there will inevitably be things that crop up that are neither time nor mileage based and these are going to crop up no matter what regime is adopted. It is often these that add to the significant costs of any overhaul. Simple examples are a new chimney or new copper pipe work.
     
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  13. Hirn

    Hirn New Member

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    This probably with its interlocking consequences deserves a major thread of its own

    The long term inexorable failure is that that concrete sleepers grate away on the underside, this exposes the wires above their bottom surface which then corrode, these are prestressed and make all the difference to the strength of a sleeper. This is quite equivalent to rot in a wooden one - good, freshly broken, new ballast and powerful tampers slewing track or raising it through layers of fresh ballast do not help.

    There are other mechanisms in particular the bolts that hold the chairs down for bullhead rail.
     
  14. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Seaward Way Crossing 16.5.21.

    Shuttering and reinforcing in place for REB base.

    ED8A111E-9603-4D7E-BB86-98FF24CA2A49.jpeg 1521C9B4-D790-40E1-B017-C1C20D342510.jpeg
     
  15. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    For those looking for a conspiracy, maybe now we know where the evidence had been buried :)
    Meanwhile, let's hope the rain subsides so that work can progress apace - not long now until July.
     
  16. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'm thinking about speaking to the union about the temporory signal box which looks a bit cramped to me...

    Robin
     
  17. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Maybe they ordered a Portacabin and someone misheard....:)
     
  18. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Thats a bit of an IN CONVENIENCE then :p
     
  19. Breva

    Breva Part of the furniture

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    Plenty of room in there:
     
  20. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Clearly, more COVID cosy then COVID secure, but probably the least of their worries....
     

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