Stop riveting boilers and run steam on vegetable oils

AS we look forward to the future of our railway, yet another year has gone by. I feel there are challenges looming on the horizon for us all, as the public, local authorities and politicians are now much more informed on the issues of the environment we live in – global warming is now a reality –  not forgetting the working environment and health and safety of our staff and volunteers.

All these elements will eventually affect the way we live and operate our railways.  For our long-term survival, we must prepare for and at least start to look at ways we can manage the inevitable.

Coal: we may be entering the end game for the extensive use of coal, perhaps only 10–20 years left, with warmer summers and the risks of fire: the National Parks railways may have less. So, what can we do?

Former Harrogate Gasworks Peckett 0-6-0ST No. 2050 of 1944 Harrogate in action on the Statfold Barn Railway on September 13, 2014. ROBIN JONES

Unfortunately, the alternatives are not very palatable, oil firing is an option, but the emissions would be unacceptable – just look at what is happening to diesel cars etc. How could we put AdBlue in a locomotive? 

Wood is another option, zero omissions but a fire risk. We tried wood and solid pressed wood blocks, but we could not make it viable – double the cost of coal and we found we could not carry sufficient quantity.

Vegetable oil ticks all the boxes – it is environmentally-friendly and clean to use. We are trying to develop an efficient burner to give us an economical solution as this may, in the future, be an option for our railway. 

Graham Lee, owner, Statfold Barn Railway, Tanworth, Staffordshire.

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