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Alternative history steam 1980

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Bikermike, Jul 1, 2022.

  1. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    Diverge in 1939. The germans aplogise profusely and go home. Ignoring environmental stuff.

    Southern
    Bullied pacifics, Q1s, N/U/S15-generation still going (just), Adams Radials and Beattie well-tanks and terriers survive. What would fill the Leader niche?

    LNER
    Monster 4-8-4/2-10-2s on big freights and slow passenger trains. A4s coming to end of life as fast passenger engines. O4s replaced by O1s?

    LMS
    Black 5s and 8Fs for everything that the Duchesses and 4-8-4s don't do. Diesel shunters in the yard

    GWR
    Counties, Cathederals, 28xx, modified Halls and modifed manors for everything else?
     
  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Can I ask for some more terms to be defined? Does nationalisation happen or not? I'm assuming from the general context (i.e. no WW II) that we also don't get nationalisation - so no BR standards? Each company forming it's own modernisation plan?

    Tom
     
  3. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I was assuming that nationalisation was a consequence of ww2. And rigging the deck (choose your own reverse-thought-engineering) so that steam is still prime motive power. I'm personally assuming the acceleration of i/c engine development caused by ww2 didn't happen, and that the Middle East remained a hot backwater full of nothing but camels and Wilfred Thesinger
     
  4. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    Of course Gresley's death was independent of ww2, so the whole of the LNER may have gone a different route. I don't think Thompson ever produced any grand schemes in the time he had?
     
  5. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    ROFL!

    Tom (Glancing through my signed copy of "Desert, Marsh and Mountain" ...)
     
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  6. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    There wasn't really a Leader niche was there? Can't see that Bulleid would have survived really. The board would surely have got fed up with brilliant concepts that didn't actual work that well on the ground. The Southern would have done all the electrification projects BR eventually picked up decades earlier, and maybe built a few more suburban lines, so would have scrapped a lot of steam and built very little. As it was the Chessington branch was never finished, but one can imagine a couple more suburban projects. Where were there gaps in the suburbs? The interesting question is who they would have got as CME. The likes of Holcroft and Clayton were too old and had already been passed over. Maybe they would have ended up with Jarvis anyway. Might Jarvis have used parts from some of his surplus light Pacifics as a basis for more economical 4-6-0s or 2-6-0s? A lengthened Q1 boiler perhaps?

    Western.
    The obvious succession would be for Cook to succeed Hawkesworth as he did anyway. Cook was a very safe pair of hands, but I can't see him as an innovator - not in new locomotive design anyway. The GWR was already looking hard at alternative traction, so some sort of equivalent to the modernisation plan seems inevitable, but hopefully better managed. I'm not sure much steam would be left by 1980.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2022
  7. MikeParkin65

    MikeParkin65 Member Friend

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    I think some sort of nationalisation would have occurred anyway - it’s the natural evolution of the grouping. Whether state owned or private is a moot point.
     
  8. JohnElliott

    JohnElliott New Member

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    I'd guess class 70 electric locos -- without the war, a lot more of the network would have been electrified by 1945.
     
  9. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    By 1980, electrification of the network has just been completed, and the final steam removed. Major capital projects like Woodhead and Kent Coast electrification completed in early 1940s, and gave rise to rolling programme of 1500V DC electrification on the LNER, taken up by LMS and GWR to deal with the more difficult pieces of railway (e.g. WCML north of Lancaster, HML, west of Newton Abbot), and then extended back to gain efficiencies due to not changing locomotives. The success of schemes like the LMS stone hoppers for Northwich traffic and the LNER hoppers for Consett is harnessed and extended, leading to the eradication of 4 wheel unbraked wagons by about 1960, resulting in a dramatic cull of smaller goods engines as freight can now run at sustained higher speeds. This tendency is reinforced by the response to shipping companies' adoption of containers, which require electrification to cope with unprecedented heavier loads.

    Steam use increasingly compressed as pre-Grouping designs become life expired, and electrification is more economic than trying to build and maintain steam in a climate of low unemployment, with widespread closures as 1930s efficiency programmes are continued through the 1940s, 50s and 60s, with basket cases like the Mid Wales, M&GN and S&D gone during the 50s as either redundant or able to be replaced by other routes using capacity released by faster, more efficient running made feasible by electrification and introduction of faster, more efficient trains. Some secondary main lines remain steam served from residual steam "islands", where electricity generation doesn't benefit from either convenient hydro-electric sources or local coalfields. The result is that Carlisle remains a steam mecca as WCML electrification mixes with residual steam on the other English LMS routes, most notably the S&C but also the Cumbrian Coast whose mineral traffic is focused on steel, not power.

    The classes withdrawn at the end are mainly Stanier designs, reflecting the pattern of steam withdrawal. The Bulleid designs survived for a good while on the SR until electrification beyond Worting Junction had taken place, delayed by a mixture of the limitations of 3rd rail and the quality of these still young locomotives.

    Discussion now focuses on the power limitations of a 1500V DC railway, and the missed opportunity to go for continental style 25kV AC electrification, which is creeping in for the newly built high speed line to the Channel Tunnel, and for the proposed GW/LMS high speed line from Paddington to Leeds via Birmingham and Manchester.
     
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  10. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    Boooo! I was hoping for big steam... Yes, electrification clearly was the way. The 1.5kV DC point is interesting, as lots of belgium and Holland (and other places ran at that voltage- hence the triple-voltage Thalys trains).

    The GW had a funny relationship with modern power, the least diesel shunters, no electrification (albeit logical given geography and traffic), and the gas-turbine seems a dead-end. On the other hand, railcars... if they got the multiple operations right, 12-car bananas heading out of Paddington?

    Could you have made any bigger engines on the Churchward blueprint? 28xxs don't exactly fill the loading-gauge like a 9F.

    Maybe I should have moved my counter-factual back a bit...
    I suspect the outer reaches of the Southern would stay steam for some while as seasonal traffic doesn't pay for the capital outlay. I think Q1s light pacifics and MNs would have kept Bulleid in his job, but that would probably more depend on his electric work. So Raworth would seem the likely replacement if anyone.

    I know Fairburn was an electrical engineer, but I don't know of any dabblings with electric on the LMS. Albeit Stanier had to steady the ship before anything else.

    In unromantic terms, the A4 would have been replaced by an EM2. Except maybe in Scotland on things like the Aberdeen runs.
     
  11. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    I think you would need to flesh out your alternate universe a bit before one can really speculate on what might have happened. E.g. What economic conditions exist in the period, motor vehicle development, etc.
     
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  12. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I was deliberately being counter-factual, building out from what was happening in the run up to WWII and using your scenarios. Backtrack had an interesting article a few years ago (by RAS Hennessey?) on rail electrification - and the GWR was one of those that did seriously consider electrification, from memory west of Taunton, to deal with the weight limits caused by the banks. Take nationalisation and WWII out, and I just wondered about the impact of a successful Woodhead project on other difficult to operate railways, especially as the top line GWR fleet started to age.

    Being ruthlessly practical, what WWII and nationalisation did was to concentrate the response to the technological shifts of the era. It's that that gave us the combination of the BR Standards and the Modernisation Plan. Without war and nationalisation, I suspect all of the railways would have pursued their various projects, learning from each other as they did so, but in a more organic way than the BR era mega plans. But that would also have retained steam for longer than BR, as easing it out of its final boltholes would have been less urgent.

    As for classes, who knows. But I suspect we'd have ended up with a progression from the thoroughly steam age EM1s and 2s to something not visually dissimilar to classes 81 - 87 as being able to handle high speeds became more important. Just as BR diesels went from the very hefty LMS twins to the much svelter 47s and 50s over about 20 years
     
  13. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    Indeed...
    I think both LNER and from what you say the GWR, were thinking of was similar to state of play on south Island NZ, where the pass and Lyttleton tunnel were electrified as effectively replacement to banking. I think the LNER had had thoughts about electrifying more, but events stopped all that.
     
  14. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    What would a thinned-out GWR middle-order look like?
    Kings were too heavy to percolate down off the main line when the Cathederals come on.
    Counties, modified halls, would manors be next on the upgrade list (needed for the lightweight secondary lines).
    I wonder if there would be any obvious difference between a Hawksworth prarie design and a 3MT (safety-valve bonnet aside)?
     
  15. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

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    all of that's pretty plausible, except you missed the LNER's order for a further 90 J72s in 1973.
     
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  16. Hermod

    Hermod Member

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    No european railways 1980 without WW2 .
    People wanted cars.
    Lorries was better/ cheaper for cargo.
    WW2 meant next to no petrol and rubber in Europe.
    Apart from these minor objections it is an interesting game.
    Nord in France built 72 2-8-2 heavy surburban tank locomotives for Paris in 1932 not scrapped before end of steam.
    Five feet drivers,two outside cylinders,cossart piston valves and some funny balance valve gear elements.
    Bulleid and Gresley was on a train that kept time with one because the pacific was taken of.
    This proves that five feet drivers are good for all european steam locomotive duties if balancing is provided.
     
  17. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    Don't forget the Pacific was a semi myth - a drawing office project Hawksworth never had anything to do with.
    And you could argue that 4160-4179 with higher superheat boilers were Hawksworth Prairies.

    By and large most of the upgrading needed was done by Sam Ell and team working their magic on the draughting and the steady introduction of higher superheat.

    Perhaps if Cook had become CME, with his known emphasis on maintenance and better working methods there might have been some improvements on that side. I wonder if it would have been technically feasible, for instance, to have a vacuum device to empty the smokebox and deposit the char in a special van quickly and easily. If I'm being really fanciful, how about better ash handling too. During WW2 Cook instigated a shop at Swindon works where firebox and ashpan contents were dumped into hoppers in a pit which could then be craned out and loaded into wagons. Perhaps that would have been extended to at least major sheds.
     
  18. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    Well maybe, but is there a difference between "can keep time in an emergency" and "same job at the same cost"? Everything's rotating a lot faster at high speed with small wheels. What does that do to the time between overhauls, with overhaul cost being the dominant factor in running costs?
     
  19. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    To the contrary, no WWII and the railways could respond to changing patterns in demand.
     
  20. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think if you wanted bug steam … on the Southern, it probably would have ended up concentrated west of Exeter. Essentially I think in the south, the electrification that did happen would have taken place but about ten years earlier than happened. So Kent Coast by the late 1940s, Bournemouth by the late 50s, then you are pushing down to Salisbury and Exeter. That concentrates steam west of Exeter by about 1965; then, depending on the economics, either closed or dieselised. I doubt much steam would have been left by 1980. If the steam drawing office could have resolved some small issues with the Pacifics, that residual rump of steam probably would have been forty or fifty original condition light Pacifics (with minor maintenance modifications) and a handful of Q1s. No Maunsell designs I suspect, which were getting pretty old by the mid 60s, never mind 1980.

    Tom
     

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