I dunno, do you?

The comforting chug of a steam train may be left in the past under government plans to crack down on coal, heritage railway operators have warned.

As the country moves towards a carbon-neutral future, officials plan to shut down every coal plant in the UK by 2025.

Members of the £400m steam train industry have said they face an “uncertain future” and have asked for government help, as they fear the coal price rises that will be caused by the plant shutdown will put them out of business.

I’m under the impression – but don;t know – that steam trains and power stations use different types of coal. Not just different sized lumps, but stuff different on the bituminous to anthracite spectrum. The reason I think this is true is that a few years ago there was some fuss about the steam enthusiasts not being able to get British coal any more, it wasn’t good enough for them what was being produced…..

34 thoughts on “I dunno, do you?”

  1. Depends on the specific train/power engine to a degree, but broadly speaking yes. There are lots of different grades of coal, from anthracite to lignite for example. But also across other variables like ash, sulphur contents, moisture etc.

    To a certain extent an engine will work across a range of grades but the optimum will be more narrow.

    Power stations generally burn the crap, as it’s cheap.

  2. The greenfreaks can fuck off anyway.

    First Brexit–then general and endless war with the left until said left is utterly destroyed. Starting with the left’s flagship of evil–the Eco-freaks.

  3. In this case the coal for use by heritage railway engines is already largely derived from imported coal since good ‘Welsh steam coal’ is no longer mined in the UK. The current problem comes about because reduced imports overall make import just for heritage engines uneconomic

  4. This is the sad, awful side of not doing the simple thing of Pigou taxes. Maybe coal is dreadful, but do we really want to ruin the occasional pleasures of steam train enthusiasts? Let them pay for the pollution and be done with it.

    I was at Bath station one day when a train pulled in. People had dressed up, were going to have fun. Not my bag, but who wants to ruin that for an impossible bureaucrat’s target.

  5. Should have dudes – there are a number of reasons why steam rail demands higher quality coal. One of the main ones is that the power:weight ratio is more important than for a power station. You have to carry your own supply, shovel it by hand. There do exist steam trains that run on poor quality coal or even wood (in the US for example) but their performance is atrocious; they can carry less, more slowly, can’t tackle inclines effectively.

    I should imagine maintenance intensity is also a big thing. I would speculate that power stations can burn hotter too, with lower surface area:volume of the combustion chamber, which helps a lot with burning crap.

  6. So the government wants us to be “carbon neutral”, but there’s always room for a few million more migrants! *Honk! Honk!*

  7. Arthur Dent,

    Is that perhaps because the forms and licenses and permits and carnets de passage and customs and inspection costs are the same whether you are importing 10 tons for your heritage steam train or 10,000,000 tons for your power station?

    BoM4,

    The point is to ruin your life. It’s nothing to do with the environment. It’s making you forfeit your pleasures because enjoying this brief life is a mortal sin. Cf: almost every other religion that preceded the green religion.

  8. The steam train enthusiasts should team up with coal-mining enthusiasts. There are bound to be a few near-surface deposits that could be mined by chaps in Victorian clothing, using pit ponies.

    Or we could send prisoners to do the mining for ’em. Actually, that’s not a bad idea. Build a prison near a suitable deposit and tell ’em – no gym for you, my lads, down the pit you go.

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  10. Can’t we modify these trains to use windmills welded to the top of the train? It can’t be that hard, surely? No crazier than some of the Green stuff we hear about.

    Anyway, I think you are failing to see the bigger picture…by sacrificing all our steam railways and the tourism that relies on them, we will inspire China into not building the hundreds of new coal power stations they are currently working on. Or something.

  11. Oblong: “I would speculate that power stations can burn hotter too, with lower surface area:volume of the combustion chamber, which helps a lot with burning crap.”

    Yes indeed. proper commercial power stations, like Didcot, used to have things to grind the coal to powder. They would roll three-foot ball bearings round and round crushing it, then move it from A to B by blowing.

    The ratio of surface area to volume was so extreme that they had to get it quickly to the combustion chamber, otherwise it might start burning of its own accord.

  12. Coal brought 200 years of prosperity to Britain, which pisses off the Left. It’s the prosperity that pisses them off.

  13. When he was working on the manhattan project I believe dick Feynman patented a nuclear train. I don’t believe it ever got made, but I think it should. We could have glow in the dark train lines. That’s what I call art!

  14. I have long felt that an electric steam train would be an interesting project!

    You’d have to have a very long kettle lead.

  15. “I have long felt that an electric steam train would be an interesting project!”

    I think that if the electric train felt it was a steam train and lived like one, that should do.

  16. Conversely, if the smoke-belching steam train identifies as an eco unicorn fart-powered train then it is.

  17. @BiG
    The point is to ruin your life. It’s nothing to do with the environment. It’s making you forfeit your pleasures because enjoying this brief life is a mortal sin. Cf: almost every other religion that preceded the green religion.

    Close. It’s the priest caste showing off their power by forcing people to forfeit their pleasures, while indulging in similar or ‘worse’ (according to their nominal religion) themselves.

    Personally, am awaiting the ‘green reformation’ with interest.

  18. Does the climate change committee have an office? Paul Homewood could nail 99 of his graphs to the door.

  19. Most religions posit an afterlife, so you suffer in this life for a better one later, assuming you’re ‘good’ in this life and put up with it.

    I’m not sure about Green religion. It certainly looks like a religion, by the requirements of observance in the here and now. But the better afterlife is missing? It seems that you end up in the Soylent Green factory.

  20. I like the idea of the electric steam loco – have it move under leccy power and burn old sump oil for the stench.
    No eco freak complaints because the oil isn’t fuel….

  21. Bloke in North Dorset

    They could electrify the line and then use green energy to boil the water.

    On a similar theme, there’s a photo doing the rounds on twitter of a car charging point that is powered by a diesel generator. I think its on Matt Ridley’s timeline.

  22. @Bloke on M4 August 8, 2019 at 9:08 am

    People had dressed up, were going to have fun. Not my bag, but who wants to ruin that..

    1. The public sector
    2. Feminazis – grid girls gone, lap/pole dancing next
    3. Left, Puritans & Eco-fascists
    4. EU

    @BiG +1

  23. @CJ Nerd August 8, 2019 at 10:54 am

    +1 isn’t it called ‘liquid coal’ as it’s sprayed into boiler like a liquid?

  24. ‘As the country moves towards a carbon-neutral future’

    Ha ha ha ha! The country plans no damn such thing. That is just disconnected politician talk! The country will move toward a politician free future.

  25. TG: I’d argue that the Green afterlife is when your children, liberated from the appalling mechanical hell of the present, live in a rural paradise, dancing among the daisies. Hell is of course also in the future, where the oceans boil, and the earth is a seared wasteland.

    Naturally a benevolent priesthood, who need a much higher living standard, is required to supervise the proles. But the Greens have already worked out who that’ll be.

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