What is it?
This is perhaps the strangest, and certainly the boldest, of all the new build projects, which is why it has been left until close to the end in the round-up. Unlike any of the others, this does not aim to recreate a vanished steam locomotive: rather, it proposes a new class of engine capable of high speed running to match a modern diesel, using modern technology to extract performance from a medium-sized steam engine that would never have been possible in the previous age of steam.
The mechanics would be based on the Riddles Standard 5, which in turn drew heavily on the Stanier Black Five – a heritage going back to the 1930s at least. It is being proposed on the basis that there will be a demand for fast, reliable (and therefore new, not vintage) steam locomotives for mainline use in the future, with an alternative version proposed for goods work that would supposedly be able to match a modern class 66 diesel.
Interestingly, the stylings of the proposed design, with smoke deflectors and garish liveries, look rather American – perhaps this loses the charm of a British steam locomotive somehow? Matters of taste aside, the project has an extensive website with lengthy feasibility documentation, and states they are seeking investment for the heavy-duty design work necessary before they can even begin cutting metal. With an estimated price tag of £10million (compared to £2million, very roughly, for the A1), they will have to find someone with deep pockets for the project to yield anything at all – and it’s a bit hard to see where that someone might come from. Still, there’s no shortage of vision here – what a story it would be if something were to come of it.