fredag 1. april 2011

Crystal Balling UK Motive Power 2012-2022

Well now you really have to put the final curtain down on the first generation production diesel electrics (c1950-1970). Be Happy! On secluded branch lines their straigth-through decibels will roar on, and you can get involved with their maintainance, maybe even retrain as a driver!

Now the second generation 1970s locos are coming to their swan song too, with re-engining and rationalisation of classes now the way forward.
So what do I predict in my crystal ball? Will we see a new type three?

The way forward is the old-new way. Trams, zings, call IC125 power cars what you like they saved the credibility of the railway through the 70s and 80s and floated GWRs boat in the 1990s and 00s. Now they are in their swansong, with new power-units. The next thing I predict here is that either class 92s will be hauling them "Under the wires" on the long distance routes using signigicant portions of the West and East CML's, or a dedicated power car being made to be dragged around the extremities and the western region. A move towards a "Unit" based train run with IC 125 power cars is unlilely given HST2 and the current franchise set up ( see my critique of this earlier blogg)

Dual and triple mode ( triple being over head 25kv, third rail and DEMU) multiple units will probably evolve soon in at least cross london guises. Given a real committment in some kind of public-private set up for offering better services while reducing the carbon footprint of those very trains, then this type of unit could find use in many more areas, Scotland , the NW, the branches running off the ECML and of course many cross-pennine services.

New locos? Well we will probably see the new "High" powered, of over 3600 hp and 4000 tonne plus haulage capapbilities coming onto BR; and I would dare to say that we will see the following: the oil sloshing voith maximas
which are actually not really any better than class 60s IMHO. Which brings me to the second: Class 60s with new PUs: either the GM 645 derived unit at its new higher rating, aroudn 3600hp, or the v16 RK215 at over 3600 hp at least. The latter would be the preference of the enthusiast, the former that of the accountants.

At some point we will need to see a replacement for the 57s and 67s in a lighter, better performing locomotive. This is probably some time off, and will take some major in- or de- centive to push the owners off their ageing trash!

As for our old chesnuts, the wonderful type 3s and type two and half "goils". Well this would come down to fuel economy and track access charges legitimising a lighter loco for sub 1000 tonne trains. Also on the topic of fuel economy it may become so expenisve to run locos that using the US / Canadian Robot system where extra power is only taken when needed, may see a return to multiple working. We just haven't seen the type of trains so far that can't be hauled by 66s. This would mean also a diesel-under-the-wires charge coming in so that dragging electric units to places like Lincoln and Sunderland becomes attractive: step in the dual mode train though here!

Type three was great for hauling around 500 tonne frieghts at less than 50mph or 250 to 300 tonne passenger services at up and down to 70mph. These trains still exist, and smaller, but are rare enough not to merit moving away from the EMD- GM monotomy of class 66 and 67/57.

In the future though, the gridlock and the battery car will have us more on trains and rightly so. Rolling on steel rails has always been one of the best transport systems. Don't forget that bitumen is a happy biproduct of the oil industry, and as oil starts to go dry, they will start to make more "coker" products ie broken down bitumen into smaller carbon chains including the octanes we crave. This will excaerbate the cost of driving by making the roads we drive on far more expensive to build and maintain. Road surface makes for poor recycled material, where as track can be smelted and concrete sleepers used in embankements, ships ballast and sea defences.

The new transport model will include little hire electric cars to zoom you around cities and industrial estates from rail hubs, while we will succumb to collective "dial a busses" or "taxi-shares" for many more of ventures over our own thresholds.

All this will mean far more "permanent way" building and upgrading, where a type 3 would be ideal. Also some routes like Barrow, Stranraer, Lincoln-Hull, Scarborough and so on may become more attractive for dragging el-units to, or portions of bigger route trains: a blast from the past!