The 5AT is the logical progression from the brilliantly successful Tornado project which, when completed in 2008, demonstrated that the building of a new steam locomotive for main line use is both possible and viable. However, the 5AT project presents much greater challenges. Whereas Tornado’s construction was based entirely on original 1948 drawings, construction of the 5AT requires the design “from scratch” of every major component.
It was recognised at a very early stage in the project that a suitable organisation would have to be formed to recruit and employ an appropriate team of engineers to design and develop the 5AT locomotive and finance its building cost In consequence a great deal of effort has been put into establishing what resources would be required for the development. This work has culminated in a feasibility study entitled "Feasibility Study regarding the formation of a Steam Locomotive Development Company to produce advanced technology "Second Generation" Steam (SGS) locomotives". Whilst the study focuses on the 5AT as a demonstrator of SGS technology, its focus covers a broader picture including various alternative strategies.
The feasibility study considers the feasibility of the project in three separate areas:
- Engineering Feasibility – is the design feasible?
- Project Feasibility – what are the practicalities of designing and developing the 5AT?
- Commercial Feasibility – is the setting up of a company commercially feasible?
The estimates made for the study indicate that some 670 man-months of engineering effort will be required in the development process. The overall development cost is estimated to be approximately £10.4 million (including an estimated cost of £2.5 million to build a prototype locomotive) compared to the Tornado project’s cost of approximately £3 million.
The feasibility study is a concise document which summarises the extensive work undertaken to establish the feasibility of the project. It is backed up with 16 appendices which contain the detail of the research undertaken for the document.
The Table of Contents of the study is as follows:
- HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE
- STRATEGY ADOPTED FOR THE STUDY
- ADVANCES THAT DIFFERENTIATE SGS LOCOMOTIVES
- THE PROPOSED 5AT 4-6-0 DEMONSTRATOR LOCOMOTIVE
- OUTLINE SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE 5AT
- THE 5AT FUNDAMENTAL DESIGN CALCULATIONS
- PERFORMANCE COMPARISON WITH EX BR 5MT 4-6-0 LOCOMOTIVE
- ANTICIPATED TRACTIVE EFFORT/POWER VS SPEED CURVES FOR THE 5AT
- PROJECT AND ENGINEERING FEASIBILITY
- COMMERCIAL FEASIBILITY
- INITIAL INVESTIGATIONS OF THE MARKET POTENTIAL FOR THE 5AT LOCOMOTIVE
- POSSIBILITIES FOR SGS FREIGHT LOCOMOTIVES
- SGS 5AT LOCOMOTIVES FOR MAIN LINE CHARTER AND TOURIST TRAINS
- SGS LOCOMOTIVES FOR TOURIST RAILWAYS
- ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS
- PARAMETERS NEEDED FOR COMMERCIAL VIABILITY
- RISKS AND CHALLENGES
- POTENTIAL COMPETITORS
- FUTURE POTENTIAL FOR STEAM TRACTION
- CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Appendices to the study are listed as follows:
- Appendix 1: 2Ist Century Steam, The Day of Modern Steam Traction, (paper by L.D.Porta, 1997).
- Appendix 2: Technical Advances that Improve the Performance, Maintenance and Reliability of Modern Steam Locos.
- Appendix 3: Engineering Specification for the Proposed Class 5AT 4-6-0 Steam Locomotive.
- Appendix 4: The Fundamental Design Calculations.
- Appendix 5: Simulations of 5AT performance.
- Appendix 6: Estimated costs of development of the Demonstrator 5AT Locomotive.
- Appendix 7: Feasibility of Steam Traction for Coal Haulage in Developing Countries.
- Appendix 8: Advanced Technology Steam Freight Locomotive
- Appendix 9: The 8AT – A Discussion of Alternative Design Strategies.
- Appendix 10: Market estimate for Advanced Technology Freight Locomotives in Coal Haulage work.
- Appendix 11: Estimated Profitability Potential of a Hypothetical 5AT Rail Cruise Organisation.
- Appendix 12: Review of Carbon Neutral Fuels with Potential for Use in Modern Steam Locomotives.
- Appendix 13: Comparison of Greenhouse Gas Emission Footprints for Different Railway Traction Systems.
- Appendix 14: Sample Estimates of Post Development Pre-tax Profitability (from the business model.
- Appendix 15: Design Processes and Methods.
- Appendix 16: Recruitment and Training of the Engineering Design and Project Management Team.
The Feasibility Study recognises that £10.4 million is too much to raise through public appeals of the sort that funded the building of Tornado and that investment funding will have to be sought based on a financial case that will offer the potential of reasonable returns on investment. Given the anticipated market limitations for the 5AT, it is a challenge to present an attractive financial model unless the development costs of the locomotive are excluded and the returns calculated only on the much lower cost of "production" locomotives. However sponsorship funding could be sought to cover at least part of the development costs.
The study also recognises that the 5AT will not be an end in itself. It is perceived as a 'demonstrator' locomotive for SGS technology that will lead on to the development of greater performance and efficiency, and to a renewed acceptance of steam traction in applications to which it is particularly suited. Recent studies have shown that steam traction can offer real cost savings over other forms of rail traction for certain niche applications, most notably in coal haulage work in developing countries. Furthermore, when oil prices rise in the future when supplies become scarcer, steam power will offer the unique advantage of being able to burn almost any available fuel, including biomass with its added advantage of offering “green” power with near-zero carbon emissions.
If you would like to be sent a copy of the Feasibility Study, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that distribution of the Appendices will be limited to those individuals and organisations expressing a serious interest in helping to progress or finance the project.