What is it?
This is a very different project to the big mainline engines like the A1 and the Patriot (an overview of that coming later this month). The intention here is to build a locomotive specifically for use on preserved railways: in truth, most preserved lines are branch lines, and while it’s enjoyable to see great big express engines on them, these locomotives are really oversized for the lines, not to mention very expensive to run. Reliable medium-sized engines are more suited to these lines, and this will be one such: a 3MT tank engine, designed by Riddles as one of the standard classes for British Railways after nationalisation. There are numerous other standard tanks still around, mostly larger 4MT engines, but the 3MT variation did not survive into preservation.
A future article will look at the business models of these projects: the builders of 82045 reason that the existing fleet of preserved steam engines are all, at the very least, 50 years old, many getting on for or over 100. They are well-maintained and cared for, but ultimately machines of this age cannot be kept running reliably forever: supplementing them with new engines will take some of the pressure off them, and allow them to be kept in lighter use for longer. That’s the theory, anyway – will the financial side of things stack up and make these smaller new build projects viable?
It will be some years before we find out – the group hope to have frames and wheels maybe by 2012-13, with the rest to follow in subsequent years. The project suffered a setback early in 2011 when thieves broke into premises on the Severn Valley Railway and stole the stock of copper that was earmarked for use on this locomotive among others. Let’s hope they can bounce back.
Status [corrected]: chassis very near to completion – a few stretchers to fit and smokebox saddle being fabricated. Motion, cylinders and wheels will be next focus.
Possible completion date: not given