The idea of developing a 2-8-0 version of the 5AT first arose in 2004 after the 5AT Group received an enquiry from a coal railway investment group in Indonesia who were seeking to procure a fleet of steam locomotives to operate their railway.
Chris Newman, an engineer with experience in materials handling and transportation, living in China, travelled to Jakarta to meet the project planners, and at their request undertook extensive costing studies that verified their expectation that steam traction would offer significant cost savings from the availability of low-cost fuel in the form of locally available coal.
Newman's studies were initially focussed on the possibility of using reconditioned Chinese QJ locomotives which were (at the time) available at very low cost. However as China Rail closed its last steam loco repair shops and QJs became both scarce and expensive, he looked into the comparative costs of a new "modern steam" freight locomotive based on the 5AT and found that when the capital cost was amortized over a 30 year period, the overall "ownership costs" would become very similar to those of a fleet of second-hand QJs, and much lower than both the diesel and electric alternatives.
Newman prepared a comprehensive (130 page) Feasibility Report that included, in addition to detailed estimates of locomotive costs, performance, and haulage capacities, proposals for track arrangements, train operations, coal loading and unloading systems, and for maintenance and servicing facilities. Newman produced a summary of this report for the CORE2008 rail industry conference held in Perth Australia in Sept 2008, at which a paper covering the subject was presented on Newman's behalf by Malcolm Cluett.
The two illustrations of the 8AT were kindly prepared for the 5AT Group by Robin Barnes. The illustration at the top of the page was prepared especially for the 2006 Modern Steam conference in York. The lower one (above right) was prepared as an illustration for Newman's Feasibility Report.