Testing Edgar

An aspect of railway operations not often covered is how new vehicles are brought into use. The older hands will tell you that “The Railway Inspectorate Approves Things”. They are wrong. The comfortable old regime was that a chap would turn up from HMRI, have a cup of tea, and the agree (after a discussion) that you new loco/carriage/whatever could be unleashed on the fare paying public. That regime ceased in the aftermath of the Ladbroke Grove accident and the snappily-named ROGS regulations. Nowadays, railways must decide for themselves if a loco can be used on passenger trains. At Apedale, such a decision is underpinned by a fairly thorough risk assessment. Inevitably, the question have to asked “does the loco actually perform as we expect it to do?”. That’s when testing comes in. The photo shows the new-build steam loco “Edgar” which was subject to testing at Apedale recently. With steam locos, there’s an interesting conundrum. They rely on the brake power from the train for stopping – so there must be enough brake power available. But there must not be such a number of coaches that the loco cannot reliable start and haul the train; there’s a “sweetspot” between these two requirements. The objective of testing is to verify that the calculated outcome is matched by the real world. So, in the photo, you can see Edgar, a couple of coaches and an unbraked diesel at the back; the mass of the diesel simulates the mass of passengers sat in the coaches. How did Edgar do? Pretty good, but we’re still crunching the numbers.
In other news, may we remind your attention of the current appeal to help the Deutz?