I'm worried about looming emissions targets.

Discussion in 'Railtours & Preservation' started by mushroomchow, 13 Feb 2018.

  1. mushroomchow

    mushroomchow Member

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    Increasingly, I fear that in the future the heritage rail industry will be hit by tightening emissions regulations and the increasing scarcity and cost of fossil fuels.

    Jo Johnson's latest quip about seeking to make the railways free of diesel-only power trains by 2040 is obviously a necessary step towards a modern, ecologically friendly railway, but I worry that a hurricane is going to hit the heritage sector in the coming decades.

    Let's face it, without the trains, heritage railways are of very little interest to most visitors. Imagine then, a future, potentially as little as 20 years away, where both coal and diesel fuel are prohibitively expensive through taxation, or simply no longer available, and many railways simply can't operate trains without plunging their delicate finances well into the red. I can see a lot of less financially stable lines going under pretty quickly once those targets start to bite.

    I often feel that the government pick the wrong battles anyway - it's quite ridiculous that, by 2040, we could be seeing TOCs forced to abandon diesel trains, while the road freight industry appears to be getting off scot-free from similar restrictions on petrol / diesel cars. Unless

    We have by far the biggest heritage railway industry in the world, and it's one of our greatest tourism assets. There are probably more steam locomotives operational in the UK than in the rest of the world combined. But some sort of solution is going to have to be found in a fairly short time if that is going to be sustained in the decades to come.

    Here's hoping some sort of exemption is written into legislation to ensure that the past can be kept alive. In the meantime, I'd start stockpiling as much coal or fuel as I could in an f-off big warehouse as soon as possible to keep my trains running if I had the opportunity!
     
    Last edited: 13 Feb 2018
  2. DelW

    DelW Member

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    Whether we like it or not, diesel engines are used in a wide variety of applications outside the road and rail transport sectors, including virtually all world shipping. Unless oil runs out *much* faster than predicted, it's very unlikely that diesel fuel will be unavailable in 20 years or so. Coal might be a little more difficult, but it's likely to still be widely available in other parts of the world.

    I can't find the original quote on line, but it's reported as referring to "diesel-only" trains. Since there's little likelihood of 100% electrification by 2040 or any other date, this allows for many bi-modes, some of which are likely to spend little or no time running under wires.

    Government ministers making statements which purport to state what their successors will decide several decades ahead are just so much vapouring, knowing that they personally will never have to deliver what they promise.
     
  3. mushroomchow

    mushroomchow Member

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    The scarcity of fuel isn't so much a problem as the proposals to progressively impose higher and higher tariffs on its purchase.

    That's all well and good for the purpose of coaxing car drivers over to electric vehicles, but not so great if your operation will collapse without being able to purchase coal and diesel at a sensible price, hence why some sort of tax exemption on fuel costs would need to be introduced to allow heritage railways to continue operating.

    Well, unless you can realistically see heritage trains (diesels, that is) being retrofitted for hydrogen or battery power, of course. As for steam locos, with even the likes of China and other BRIC nations scaling back their use of coal for energy production and transferring to alternate power sources, I give it 25 years until it becomes genuinely difficult to source outside of niche operations charging high prices - there'll be no market for large mining operations which can afford to charge lower prices.
     
  4. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    Some heritage railways have already switched to oil-firing.
     
  5. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    At the typical 25mph of a heritage railway is wood (biomass) viable?
     
  6. DelW

    DelW Member

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    I've always assumed that railways (whether heritage or mainline) operate on red diesel already, as do virtually all non-road-transport users (certainly including construction where I work). There would be very widespread opposition to any significant changes to this tax regime.
     
  7. mushroomchow

    mushroomchow Member

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    I suppose that as many railways are registered as charities, they'd be exempt from certain taxation, but does that actually apply to supplies like fuel? I also imagine that by 2040 there will have been some progress in other industries towards replacing red diesel as a fuel source where possible as and when viable alternatives become available. Either way, I can't see either fuel being any easier to obtain - or anywhere near as affordable - in two decades time.

    Are heritage railways actually allowed to burn red diesel anyway? This thread from way back in 2008 makes it sound like legislation has tightened around its use in recent years, and it isn't as simple as merely picking up a barrel and siphoning it into a locomotive to run it at any stretch - the heritage industry presumably sources the same specification of fuel that the national network uses, and that fuel is going to be far less common or easy to source if the 2040 national network moratorium comes good. It won't for a number of other reasons, but it's still something heritage railways should, and presumably are, thinking about.

    I had thought about that, but there'd have to be significant modifications to a lot of locomotives and, given the higher burn rate, you'd be looking at far more regular restocking being required, potentially up to twice or three times daily on a more powerful tank engine. Lineside fires are also far more of a problem with wood-fired locos due to the cinders they spit out- and having had to walk half a mile along the trackbed with a beater to put one out a few times in the past, I can assure you I wouldn't welcome that!

    It was interesting to read that there have been previous precedents for converting steam locomotives to oil firing for economic purposes in the past. I do wonder if there will come a time when some sort of weird, Frankenstein-like biofuel solution is put into practice for both steam and diesel locomotives? We certainly grow enough relatively unnecessary cash crops in this country to do it, if not for the road industry then certainly for other sectors.
     
  8. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    In theory, almost any vegetable matter can be converted into a liquid fuel; whether that is financially viable is a different matter.

    Plenty of steam locos have been converted from coal to oil firing, but it is usually necessary to modify the combustion arrangements. There were many such examples in Germany in their final years of steam operation, including both express passenger & heavy freight locos.

    Some GWR locos were converted to oil firing after WW2, but the cost of imported oil was considered to high (at that time) and they soon reverted to coal firing.
     
  9. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    The heritage railway I volunteer at buys A1 red diesel from a local contractor. The local contractor mostly supplies local farms and industry and heating oil. We use considerably more oil in heating our loco and carriage workshops than on traction by the way.
     
  10. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    That’s interesting. I wouldn’t have expected that.
    Going on what you’ve posted in the past Paul, I’m assuming that you’re talking about running medium to small tank engines over a reasonably level 10 mile(ish) line (somewhere in the southeast of England ;)).
    It’d be interesting to compare the coal consumption there with the hilly (but similar length) Mid Hants, or perhaps the GCR with their mixture of sometimes larger traction but also running on a similar length, reasonably level ten mile line?

    Re this thread - I could foresee a time when a locomotive ‘clagging’ may well become severely frowned upon (be it steam or diesel), by a new generation of preserved loco crews becoming uncomfortable at the thought of emitting noxious gases (and I don’t mean because of too many egg sandwiches either).
     
  11. theageofthetra

    theageofthetra Established Member

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    A couple of heritage lines I have used abroad burn used engine oil recycled from road vehicles. I think one even used recycled transmission oil (which I always thought was pretty dangerous stuff?)

    There are some new build steam locomotives (and retrofitted ships) in Switzerland which use a form of LPG- not sure if its the same stuff that is used in road vehicles.

    There are a few preserved pumping engine sites in the UK which use modern gas boilers.
     
  12. DelW

    DelW Member

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    Tests on a 15" gauge loco in the US have shown that steam loco fuel is possible:
    http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdige...team-locomotives-with-torrefied-biomass-fuel/
    (see also the embedded link above for more extensive coverage)
     
  13. theageofthetra

    theageofthetra Established Member

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    Very interesting. I have forwarded this onto the RHDR. - Their loco The Bug would be an ideal test bed for this sort of technology and if it's trialled for free with grants being available too its win-win all round.
     
  14. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    I am not worried. There will be a derogation for historic vehicles.
     
  15. mushroomchow

    mushroomchow Member

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  16. chorleyjeff

    chorleyjeff Member

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    Little is " for free". The taxpayer pays for such freebies
     
  17. mushroomchow

    mushroomchow Member

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    Well okay, if we're going to be picky that's true, but any chance a railway has to not have to pay the full cost out of their own pocket will be welcome to them.
     
  18. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    flattish compared to the Mid Hants or GCR? I think not.
     
  19. theageofthetra

    theageofthetra Established Member

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    Grants from the biomass firm to allow their tech to be tested.
     
  20. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    I take it all back (although I wasn’t suggesting the GCR was particularly hilly), great footage.
    I’m going to try and visit the line at some point. It’s a bit of a long way from me but it looks excellent.
     
  21. trash80

    trash80 Member

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    True but i guess fuel scarcity will be a concern but there are alternatives which will just have to be worked out, not an insurmountable problem today and especially in decades hence.
     
  22. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Member

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    ...."Re this thread - I could foresee a time when a locomotive ‘clagging’ may well become severely frowned upon (be it steam or diesel), by a new generation of preserved loco crews becoming uncomfortable at the thought of emitting noxious gases (and I don’t mean because of too many egg sandwiches either).[/QUOTE]

    I seem to recall that the steam railway magazines had an informal agreement not to publish pictures of engines being put to hard work and producing lots of "dirty" smoke - white steam was ok. But I think it will be preserved steam's "neighbours" i.e. nearby housing, that will be more of a threat than shortage of coal or diesel fuel oil. I see lots more houses being built next to preserved lines and I know that noise restrictions are in place. The fact that people buy houses next to working established lines.....and then complain, is increasingly common.
     
  23. Shenandoah

    Shenandoah Member

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    Over the next decade or so I believe there will be many fundamental changes affecting the heritage/tourist railway market.
    I am sure emissions will be monitored or possibly restricted - running on certain days only for instance. I also think that the present day appeal of preserved lines will alter with only those lines offering something more than a slow jaunt through the countryside will survive. Some lines already offer worthwhile destinations and places of interest for travellers. and some, not many, run through spectacular scenery There is a possibility, changes in government views or government, which could result in some of the longer lines, which serve large communities, taken back into the national network.
    This won't happen soon but I think it could be a future which those involved with railway preservation need to consider. I do have to say that I am unlikely to see the foregoing happen but it is, in my view, a future that might happen.
     
  24. mushroomchow

    mushroomchow Member

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    For what it's worth, Loughborough sheds on the GCR are already an AQMA (Air Quality Management Area) for Sulphur Dioxide, and I imagine it's the same at other heritage railways around the UK, but the Borough Council have until now adopted a fairly lax approach to monitoring and targets. That could change in the future - officially, they're supposed to be working to progressively reduce the readings each year, but it's interesting to read that amongst the conditions of the agreement is the implementation of "proper driving" according to the 1957 Handbook for Steam Locomotive Men!

    I fully expect a biomass solution to be the way forward for heritage railways in a few decade's time - the question is to what extent it will be viable to run larger motive power on it.

    I can vouch for the K&ESR, brilliant line and beautiful surroundings. Bodiam Castle is worth a visit while you're there, and if you like your ales it's hop capital UK too.
     
    Last edited: 16 Feb 2018
  25. randyrippley

    randyrippley On Moderation

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    Just for the record, most non-military "diesel" ships actually burn some form of heavy oil / bunker oil, not diesel fuel. They may use diesel to cold start engines, but once warmed they switch to heavy oil
    Military vessels tend to use aviation paraffin in diesel engine.

    Truth is, given sufficient pre-heating and chemical compatibility of filters and piping, a diesel engine can burn virtually any liquid hydrocarbon
     
  26. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    And pretty disgusting high sulphur stuff it is, with no effective controls on emissions once out in international waters. We get cruise ships moored in the bay down here periodically. One sunny Sunday afternoon last year I watched one starting up its main engines ready for departure. The black filth that came out of that funnel and gradually formed a smoky layer across the water in the still air was frankly staggering. Possibly something wrong with the engine but it didn't stop it sailing off. Mind you, the American S160 steam loco newly arrived on the Dartmouth steam Railway was also making an awful lot more black smoke than the typical GW and BR standard engines used on the line when I saw it last week.
     

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