Another ‘bugging’ question, this time on the value of Locomotive Timing Performance Recently taking a fresh read of Winkworth on my pet subject of Bulleid Pacifics reminded me that many pages refer to locomotive timings taken in 1950s and 1960s. Locomotive timing is something that is still to be seen on steam rail-tours and is something I don’t mind admitting that I have ‘dabbled’ into in the distant path, if only for my own notes taken on the day. I’ve always held a doubting view however as to what can be taken from such tables given that any two locomotives on any two outings will encounter an array of differing criteria that in my view, creates difficulties in comparing like with like. For instance, weather conditions, leaf fall and sap, rail condition, differences in driver and fireman skills and techniques, quality of coal, condition of locomotive given time since last major overhaul, weight behind the drawbar for starters. On more modern rail tours, speed restriction and strict compliance to those restrictions along with a schedule allowing for passing service trains leaves me somewhat confused as to what such timings actually show? Can we really say that one particular locomotive or type outperforms another on the same route given so many variables? I’m not knocking those who are into recording timings, in fact I admire their eye for detail. What I am unclear of is what a table showing for instance how 34025 performed between Cannon Street and Tonbridge on a particular date, tells me about that locomotive and the skills of the crew compared with another? Did the schedule for that working really push the locomotive and crew? I’m confident esteemed members of NP will point out the obvious omission in my thinking!