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 Post subject: Re: Steam trains could die out because of government crackdo
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:50 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 954
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
Honestly it depends alot on who wins the next election. That doesn't mean I am or am not rooting for a certain outcome because of that... just saying it makes a difference.

It seems pretty crazy to think that all the coal power plants in this country would get shutdown within 10 years, but nothing is impossible.


Actually, it's not that crazy. Look at the data that is linked to above. Every year you're going to see a minimum of 5 to 10 plants shutting down/converting to natural gas. It's now mostly economic and marketing at this point. Gas is much cheaper and relatively cleaner, so between that and the continued growth in renewables, coal is essentially dead as a fuel for power generation. Frankly, whoever wins the next election will have very little impact on the future of coal. The writing is clearly on the wall.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam trains could die out because of government crackdo
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:14 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 954
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Dave wrote:
Should we, as an industry, reach out to the operators of smaller mines that produce decent locomotive coal and see if, combined, we can provide enough volume to keep it open, even part time? I'd love to see the McBride or Hays Brothers stay open, just because they were neighbors when I was a small child...... but any would do.


That would be a question of economics. Bear in mind that the life of a mine does not stop when production ceases. Once a mine closes, the mine owner is required by federal law to remediate any toxins left as a byproduct of mining activity and to return the land to its pre-mining state. That cost alone can be hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more).

As for burning coal, there are two economic costs-the cost of buying the coal and the cost of disposing of the coal ash. Coal ash is nasty stuff-plenty of heavy metals and toxins. When you pay the firm to haul the ash off, the hazmat fee that you pay isn't profit for anyone (or should not be). That money is supposed to cover the cost of containment and eventual remediation of the coal ash dump. That is a major cost that the utilities have to consider-another reason to get away from using coal.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Steam trains could die out because of government crackdo
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:01 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:47 pm
Posts: 11
ctjacks wrote:
From which mine, or which dealer, are the current coal-burning steam operators getting their coal from today? I am thinking of Strasburg, D&S, C&TS, PM 1225, NKP 765, etc.? Are they all using the same source?


The D&S gets its coal by truck from the King Coal II mine in Hesperus, Colo. In 2016 there was a permitting issue which threatened to close the mine. I suspect the railroad's testimony was one of the motivators of the mine receiving its permit to continue. I don't know what other mines nearby could supply the type of coal needed, but imagine the trucking costs of ~24 tons daily would add up.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam trains could die out because of government crackdo
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:51 am 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 954
Location: Tucson, Arizona
QJdriver wrote:
I know everybody must be tired of hearing me harp on this, BUT, all the photos of steam engines puking artificially thick, nauseating, FILTHY BLACK SMOKE are not helping our cause. For some reason the general public, and especially the enviro-dogooders, have gotten the idea that steam locomotives cause excess pollution….


That and they cause noise pollution when an incompetent fireman keeps the engine too hot, causing the safeties to lift unnecessarily. One of the engineers I used finally had it with that racket and laid the law down on the firemen he worked with-safeties lift ONCE in the morning for the test and NO MORE.

As someone with one foot in environmental science and the other in railway preservation, I see the pros and cons of both sides. I’ve been in that position for the last thirty years. As responsible railway operators, we need to make it clear to our operations people that we need to clean up our act. Black smoke=waste, Black smoke=negative public opinion. Clean stack=positive/neutral public opinion. If a railfan or photographer complains about a lack of smoke, please take a moment to educate them about the situation we are facing and the need to minimize the amount of smoke we emit.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam trains could die out because of government crackdo
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 3:28 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3608
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Alan Walker wrote:
As someone with one foot in environmental science and the other in railway preservation, I see the pros and cons of both sides. I’ve been in that position for the last thirty years. As responsible railway operators, we need to make it clear to our operations people that we need to clean up our act. Black smoke=waste, Black smoke=negative public opinion. Clean stack=positive/neutral public opinion. If a railfan or photographer complains about a lack of smoke, please take a moment to educate them about the situation we are facing and the need to minimize the amount of smoke we emit.


How many roads back in the day had warnings to engine crews that black smoke was wasteful of fuel? How many roads emphasized the importance of proper firing and running?

We would be following the best practices of steam in service if we kept such things in mind.

Those practices also tell us the skill of the fireman isn't limited to a strong back and a weak mind, as some people seem to think (and which real firemen, or the good ones, know is anything but true).


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 Post subject: Re: Steam trains could die out because of government crackdo
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:18 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 227
Location: Philadelphia, PA
This discussion is congruent with the McMyler coal dumper thread under "Port Richmond Pier 18."

The McMylers in NY and Phila were retired because the coal-fired power plants on the water in both cities either shut down or changed fuels. The last McMyler, at Port Reading NJ, was shut down by Conrail around 1983.

The process is continuing. I understand the coal plant served by the Black Mesa and Lake Powell, with its E60's, is due to shut down shortly.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: Steam trains could die out because of government crackdo
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 3:16 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 954
Location: Tucson, Arizona
EJ Berry wrote:
This discussion is congruent with the McMyler coal dumper thread under "Port Richmond Pier 18."

The McMylers in NY and Phila were retired because the coal-fired power plants on the water in both cities either shut down or changed fuels. The last McMyler, at Port Reading NJ, was shut down by Conrail around 1983.

The process is continuing. I understand the coal plant served by the Black Mesa and Lake Powell, with its E60's, is due to shut down shortly.

Phil Mulligan


That is correct. Owners couldn't attract a new operator. The plant, mine and railroad will all shut down at the same time. With the advancements in natural gas and renewables, coal plants are living on borrowed time. Once they're gone, coal heated homes will be the next to go-fuel costs will rise to the point that the homeowners will have to go to an alternate heating source.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam trains could die out because of government crackdo
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 3:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
A wiser scientific mind than most here--and, oddly, at that time a staunch libertarian--told me years ago that "in a global sense, both coal and oil are far more valuable as petrochemical and carbon stock than they are as a fuel source, but until we are willing to sacrifice convenience and shift to nuclear power combined with other alternative power and energy storage sources, it's what we're stuck with for now."

That was then.

There are many, many factors working against coal now, and not just the "greenies" and cheaper gas from fracking. One major issue is the dramatic shift away from massive generating stations cranking out lots of megawatts, and towards smaller stations that can kick in as needed (when everyone's running their ACs or heaters or recharging their EVs or whatever) and shut down when not needed. The folks making money in energy production are the engineers facilitating the ability of "the grid" to instantly compensate for power shifts. This alone makes 24/7 coal burning plants a thing of the past, never mind the market for, or regulation or availability of, coal.

I'm awaiting the first folks that actually, successfully convert a commercial steam locomotive to burn corn or wood pellets. (Spare me the "biomass" marketing term.) Not out of need, but driven by costs.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam trains could die out because of government crackdo
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:31 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5698
Location: southeastern USA
Been done on sugar plantations for decades - until recently, unless there's a few left in service someplace way out there.

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Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Steam trains could die out because of government crackdo
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:34 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:58 am
Posts: 57
Tom F wrote:
I am not going to even bring up the global warming nonsense. Everything Al Gore said in his documentary was not only wrong but so wrong it is laughable now. None of his predictions came true and neither did the so called thousands of experts.


Except that predictions were wrong in that they were many years too late:

Scientists didn't expect to see Greenland melt at this rate for another 50 years: By the last week of July, the melting had reached levels that climate models projected for 2070 in the most pessimistic scenario.

https://www.businessinsider.com/greenla ... S&IR=T&utm

The bottom line is whether you believe in climate change or not you could be overwhelmed by public outcry against what we are doing.

You may remember the Alar Apple scare did a lot of damage to apple growers who never used the chemical.

Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Steam trains could die out because of government crackdo
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:38 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 954
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Not out of need, but driven by costs.


Actually, driven by costs is the same as out of need in this case. In the time that I've been associated with the railway preservation industry, coal costs have nearly doubled. Tourist railroads need to keep ticket prices within a specific range to cover operating costs and the cost of maintaining or improving their property.

It is true that coal and oil have greater value as petrochemicals as opposed to fuels. However, many of the major oil companies will see a notable reduction in their income as electric replaces petrol as the fuel of choice. The oil companies that are investing in alternative energy sources will be much stronger than their competitors who are not. This suggests that there will be contraction in the petrochemical industry in the long term-the healthier companies will buy out the weaker companies.

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