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Author Topic: Looming driver shortage - heritage railways  (Read 1608 times)
grahame
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« on: August 24, 2019, 05:54:09 am »

From The Telegraph

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Britain's heritage railways are in danger of running out of steam unless younger drivers can be replace aging ones as bosses revealed a pressing need for "new blood". 

British heritage lines have called for younger volunteers to replace aging drivers on the brink of retirement.

The Swanage Railway in Dorset - one of the biggest heritage lines in the country - needs to find 40 drivers over the next five years to fill the gap.

The attraction has 42 drivers but the majority are aged 60 or above and are likely to step down in the coming years.

The issue of a relatively short term 'career' in voluntary driving of heritage trains extends to voluntary drivers of community buses ... starting as they wind down from a full-time career and then being unable to carry on for age or health reasons just a few years later.  We can be perfectly fit enough for most things, but not have that perfect fitness to drive a public service road, or rail, vehicle.
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stuving
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2019, 12:05:15 pm »

That may be academic - there was a letter in last week's Wokingham Paper based on this article in Raliway Magazine, saying "the government intends to ban coal-burning steam locomotives as part of its climate emergency policy". My reaction was to doubt that the government had progressed as far as intending anything so precise, but might have proposals for "zero coal" and had not really thought of exemptions or delays. That does sound roughly like what RM says:
Quote
Britainís heritage railways are fighting for their future in the face of a Government crackdown on carbon emissions.

So serious is the threat that politicians from both sides of the Parliamentary divide joined forces in July to call for steam lines to be spared the most extreme aspects of new coal-burning laws.

Of course eventually the same will be true of diesel, and in both cases there may be an "essential user" category that heritage railways would not obviously fit into.
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SandTEngineer
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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2019, 12:28:59 pm »

As the Telegraph article states, it's more than just drivers of steam locos.  Its proving almost impossible to recruit youngsters to undertake all the other tasks needed.  The team I have for S&T work on my railway is all in its 60s/70s/80s and I include myself in that (well, the first one at least).  The required skills and energy required are going to rapidly disappear and I can see lots of the current preserved railways closing down because of it.  After 50 years of climbing signals (glad its not telegraph poles anymore), even I'm begining to find it more difficult and extremely tiring!

Anyway, it seems to focussed on loco drivers at the moment: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4zPjWLlDG30
« Last Edit: August 24, 2019, 02:45:21 pm by SandTEngineer » Logged

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didcotdean
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2019, 12:38:29 pm »

There have been limited concessions extended through the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs for availability and legal use of leaded petrol, plus use of rebated kerosene or other additives in historic cars and tractors that cannot run on unmodified present-day commercially available fuels. The difficulty that will be faced with coal for steam engines though is that it may cease to become available altogether as this would be such a limited market.
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onthecushions
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« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2019, 05:35:42 pm »


I visited Didcot GWS today and noted the youth of the footplate crews, including a lady (forgive the politeness). The Swindon panel was superb as were the volunteers on duty.

I think that the future for steam will be oil firing, even LPG/CNG - it will be cleaner, accurately controllable and of quick response - little blowing off of safety valves, no dropping fires, longer life fireboxes and boilers etc. Coal was only cheap because it was difficult to handle.

DOO steam?

OTC
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sikejsudjek3
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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2019, 11:36:38 am »

Well if Iain Duncan Smith has his way there won't be anyone retiring until 75, in which case there won't be any heritage lines left except the ones that can employ a large number of paid staff.

Apparently the country can't afford pensions any more, even though it can afford corporation tax cuts.
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SandTEngineer
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2019, 09:54:51 pm »

This is how it all started: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-operation-bluebell-1960-online
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Charlie (in Gloucester)
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2019, 10:53:11 pm »

Iím only 23! God knows when I will end up working until!  Cheesy
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TonyK
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2019, 10:49:01 am »


I visited Didcot GWS today and noted the youth of the footplate crews, including a lady (forgive the politeness). The Swindon panel was superb as were the volunteers on duty.

I think that the future for steam will be oil firing, even LPG/CNG - it will be cleaner, accurately controllable and of quick response - little blowing off of safety valves, no dropping fires, longer life fireboxes and boilers etc. Coal was only cheap because it was difficult to handle.

DOO steam?

OTC

That won't go down with the traditionalists, who don't like it unless it's dirty, although it makes perfect sense. Perhaps a tender could be developed with plastic coal and a pantograph, producing steam from a 25kV electric boiler?

Nostalgia isn't like it used to be.
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johnneyw
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2019, 11:49:26 am »

The ageing volunteer issue, although no doubt a real one, does contrast with my observations at many of the heritage railways that I've visited. Okay, so it's maybe not a very scientific sample but I've seen so many young volunteers, including drivers, on most of my visits that I do think the people are there and you just have to reach out to them. It's not just a male preserve any more as I've seen young and slightly less young female volunteers fulfilling all the roles available from station staff to train staff, driver, fireman, P-Way gang and more.
It's not a problem of a lack of potential volunteers but instead a challenge of how to get their attention.
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broadgage
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2019, 12:26:20 pm »


I visited Didcot GWS today and noted the youth of the footplate crews, including a lady (forgive the politeness). The Swindon panel was superb as were the volunteers on duty.

I think that the future for steam will be oil firing, even LPG/CNG - it will be cleaner, accurately controllable and of quick response - little blowing off of safety valves, no dropping fires, longer life fireboxes and boilers etc. Coal was only cheap because it was difficult to handle.

DOO steam?

I rather doubt that oil or gas firing will become popular, both are more complex and costly to handle than coal, and they are still fossil fuels with significant carbon emissions.
I have previously suggested that electricity could be used in the shed for warming up thereby reducing both labour and carbon emissions. IIRC a narrow gauge heritage line already does this, but I am not aware of any full size steamers thus equipped.
A relatively modest electrical loading would heat the boiler up to nearly boiling point and permit of very quick steam raising.
A more substantial electrical input would actually raise steam and permit of lighting the fire only a very short time before the first train.

A battery locomotive could be very useful on the larger heritage lines for shunting, engineering trains,  ECS movements and for rescuing/assisting anything that breaks or gets stuck.

A battery multiple unit could be used for any commuter trains that are proposed outside of the steam operating times, or of course heritage coaches hauled by the battery loco.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2019, 12:30:28 pm by Richard Fairhurst » Logged

A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
martyjon
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2019, 01:41:19 pm »

If I remember correctly there were fireless steam locomotives about. Didn't Huntley and Palmers' have 2 fireless locomotives at their Reading Manufacturing base which was connected up to the sites heating system to "charge" the boiler and could operate for about 30 minutes before the boiler pressure dropped to a level which needed a recharge. Again memory reminds me that one of these locomotives was preserved and was once stored at the Didcot Railway Centre but I don't know what happened to it.
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grahame
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2019, 02:20:07 pm »

If I remember correctly there were fireless steam locomotives about. Didn't Huntley and Palmers' have 2 fireless locomotives at their Reading Manufacturing base which was connected up to the sites heating system to "charge" the boiler and could operate for about 30 minutes before the boiler pressure dropped to a level which needed a recharge. Again memory reminds me that one of these locomotives was preserved and was once stored at the Didcot Railway Centre but I don't know what happened to it.

Also had them on the Sittingbourne and Kemsley - again charged from the papsr mill's boilers.    Taking broadgage's thoughts forward ... and reading WikiPedia

Quote
In an attempt to save on coal the Swiss Federal Railways fitted two small 0-6-0 steam shunters of class E 3/3 with a pantograph. Power was taken from overhead lines (15 kV, ​16 2⁄3 Hz), and fed to heating elements, via two transformers rated together at 480 kW. The modified E 3/3 8521 was brought into use on 13 January 1943; 8522 followed on 11 February 1943. They could run up to 20 minutes without power supply, like a fireless locomotive, once the boiler had been charged to full pressure. The firebox was retained, usually keeping hot embers, with a classic fire for longer operation on non-electrified tracks. The water circulation pump, the control circuit and the lighting were powered by a battery that was charged from a rectifier fed by one of the transformers.


Slightly modified from image by W.Rebel under Creative Commons 3.0 license

The "up to 20 minutes without power" could be significant - that should be plenty long enough to get through the Severn tunnel ... class 803, electric with steam power for short sections hard to electrify ...
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johnneyw
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« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2019, 02:37:25 pm »

If I remember correctly there were fireless steam locomotives about. Didn't Huntley and Palmers' have 2 fireless locomotives at their Reading Manufacturing base which was connected up to the sites heating system to "charge" the boiler and could operate for about 30 minutes before the boiler pressure dropped to a level which needed a recharge. Again memory reminds me that one of these locomotives was preserved and was once stored at the Didcot Railway Centre but I don't know what happened to it.

I recall there was/is one on display in Gloucester docks that formerly shunted at the local power station (so plenty of steam there). They were also used in shunting explosive materials as in the attached.

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broadgage
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« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2019, 02:47:59 pm »

If I remember correctly there were fireless steam locomotives about. Didn't Huntley and Palmers' have 2 fireless locomotives at their Reading Manufacturing base which was connected up to the sites heating system to "charge" the boiler and could operate for about 30 minutes before the boiler pressure dropped to a level which needed a recharge. Again memory reminds me that one of these locomotives was preserved and was once stored at the Didcot Railway Centre but I don't know what happened to it.

These used to be popular in situations of extreme fire risk, not just for handling explosives but also in oil refineries and petrol depots.
Also needed no fireman thereby saving wages.
Fireless steam engines usually had a warning bell or gong rather than a whistle so as to save steam.
Not usually fitted with air or vacuum brakes due to the steam consumption of an ejector or air pump.
If lighting was needed it was usual to use flameproof battery or oil lamps as approved for use in coal mines, but most such engines were used only in daylight or in well lit yards etc.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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