Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Friday, September 22, 2006
working steam and the future
It's funny to think that if we really want to record the past we should be pointing our cameras at diesels, not steam locomotives. Whilst diesel fuel prices relentlessly rise as oil runs out leading to the eventual disappearance of the diesel locomotive (as well as the car) steam will have no problem securing fuel - coal initially but as coal prices rise due to increasing demand then wood will become more and more the fuel of choice, not only for heritage railways but for the non-electrified Network lines.
Wood is an ideal fuel - it is sustainable and if well-managed very productive, both in its growing and burning stages.
There's likely to be a huge increase in the number of wood-burning steam locomotives built in the future, a move we're likely to see first in the developing world (particularly India and China), then increasingly in the US and Europe.
Certainly the S&D should be looking to secure additional land at the side of its route as we expand, to allow us to grow our own fuel for the future. There is little likelihood of a 21st century S&D being electrified, so steam will be the only realistic option.
Rumblings that a good marketing description for the route, once we have a few miles of track, would be 'Britain's first WORKING steam railway of the 21st century' are likely to become louder as we press ahead. Steam won't be just for the tourists and enthusiasts, but a practical and economic way of running the line as we begin to turn into a transport service.