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What fast engines would work for a branch line?


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Odd scenario, but here goes: assuming you a have a boat train service between a branch line terminus at a seaport and a main line station, what relatively quick tank engine should be chosen, from the entire range of British steam engine classes?

 

It's a branch line, so no Streaks or Spamcans. The distance between the branch terminus and station and is about 30-40 miles.

Edited by GWRSwindon
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As you’ve not put a region I’d say that it’s likely the biggest would be Black 5’s, BR Standard 4-6-0’s and B1’s, all depending on region.

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You say no Spamcans but the West Countries were often employed as branch line locos on the Withered Arm and therefore if your boat train was from one of the many South West ports this might have been the most likely motive power.

 

However you do say Tank engines so in my local area, East Anglia, I would suggest an L1 as these were seen on services to ports.

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Not a boat train, but the Cambrian Coast Express used to wind it's way round the creeks and inlets of coastal Wales headed by a 4-6-0 Manor class loco. 

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It seems a kinda odd question, because there were branch lines that were built to maximum weight restrictions, double track etc and could take exactly the same locomotives as the main line if necessary. It seems unlikely to me that a significant boat train service wouldn't be a through train to London or whatever city, even if the rest of the services on the line were two coach stopping services. I can't see many boat trains, with all the baggage that implies, being all change at the first junction with the main line. 

So I suspect everything depends on the detail. Are you thinking of a major International terminal for your port with big liners docking, or a little local port with a twice a week ferry taking 50 people to an island 20 minutes away? 

 

To my mind you are not going to get a general answer. I think you either need to decide the history and construction of your branch and port, which will tell you what locomotives would be required to run the traffic, or else decide what locomotives you want to run, and then define a history and construction that explains them. 

 

Now if you were to pick pre group LBSCR as your period, they certainly had big tank engines running boat train services, but I'm not sure many others. 

 

 

Edited by JimC
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How much is a bus fare? How long is a bit of string? sort of question. 

 

A 40 mile branch would be more of a secondary line rather than a branch and would require a loco with water capacity for a 40 mile run non-stop.

 

 

 

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There was a "boat train" on the Bristol & North Somerset line - a single line branch. It provided a connection to Bristol at Frome from the Weymouth-Paddington Channel Islands service  and ran with Express headlamps stopping only at Radstock and Pensford. The loco was a 45XX, 4575 or 57XX.

 

On summer Saturdays in 1932 there was a through Birmingham - Weymouth boat train that ran non-stop over the branch. The type of loco isn't stated but I could well imagine it would have been a 43XX Mogul.

 

(from Through Countryside and Coalfield by Mike Vincent)

 

To answer the OP's request for a specific tank loco, I would say a 4575 if it was on the GWR.

Edited by Andy Kirkham
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1 hour ago, Oldddudders said:

Not a boat train, but the Cambrian Coast Express used to wind it's way round the creeks and inlets of coastal Wales headed by a 4-6-0 Manor class loco. 

But often a tank engine - 4575 or 82XXX.

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49 minutes ago, JimC said:

It seems a kinda odd question, because there were branch lines that were built to maximum weight restrictions, double track etc and could take exactly the same locomotives as the main line if necessary. It seems unlikely to me that a significant boat train service wouldn't be a through train to London or whatever city, even if the rest of the services on the line were two coach stopping services. I can't see many boat trains, with all the baggage that implies, being all change at the first junction with the main line. 

So I suspect everything depends on the detail. Are you thinking of a major International terminal for your port with big liners docking, or a little local port with a twice a week ferry taking 50 people to an island 20 minutes away? 

 

If I were being pernickity, I might suggest that that the original premise was a bit unlikely - if a port were busy enough to support a dedicated boat train, then the railway that served it would be a main line rather than a branch. But I'm a believer in Rule 1.

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I'm not a hundred percent sure on this, but I believe boat trains to Stranraer were worked by Crewe North 5X Jubilees, specially fitted with token apparatus to work over the single line sections.

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The obvious example is Fishguard Harbour, originally conceived as a Transatlantic port but for the most part serving one ferry shuttling to Rosslare and back twice every 24 hours, one in the wee small hours and one in the afternoon.  A single line branch, with the boat trains hauled by Castles mostly.  It also dealt with a nightly cattle boat service to Waterford, so cattle trains as well, with Halls. 

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8 minutes ago, LMS2968 said:

I'm not a hundred percent sure on this, but I believe boat trains to Stranraer were worked by Crewe North 5X Jubilees, specially fitted with token apparatus to work over the single line sections.

I have a vague recollection of a photo showing a 2-6-4 tank heading a Stranraer boat train.

Best wishes 

Eric

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29 minutes ago, Michael Hodgson said:

Would you count Liverpool Riverside as a branch line to a seaport?

Never part of a mainline railway (owned by MDHB) but operated by EE class 40 diesels in later years would, IMHO make it count.

Edited by melmerby
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30 to 40 miles is stretching it a bit for tank locos, however there were numerous cases of tanks on long runs,  the Clyde Coast boat trains being the most obvious parallel with Caley 4-6-2 Tanks and GSWR 4-6-4 Tanks giving way to LMS 2-6-4T and BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4Ts.  NB wise they had 4-4-0T and 4-4-2T locos replaced largely with V1 and V3 2-6-2T on the best services. GWR wise a 51XX 2-6-2T would be a likely candidate as they worked Taunton, Minehead but on that length of run you would expect them to be turned to face smokebox first after each run.  The Southern had 2 X LBSC 4-6-2Ts and seven(?)  4-6-4Ts, the 4-6-4ts were hacked into Remembrance class 4-6-0 tender locos in the 1930s.

The LMS had a lot of LTSR 4-4-2T locos with large (6ft 6"?) driving wheels, replaced by 2-6-4Ts as too small for London Tilbury and Southend services and no use for anything else.  Several were stored at Carlisle for years, one or two of them could have worked boat trains on your fictional Branch.   Most impressive fast tank?  Probably GWR 4-4-2T  County Tanks,6ft 8" driving wheels but they had all gone by 1934, maybe one or two could have been kept  to work a fictional branch.

The reverse of using a small tender loco which could negotiate a branch on a long run was Lymington Pier on the South Coast where D15 4-4-0s were used on Boat trains from Waterloo  long after their sell by date as bigger, (probably longer) locos were not allowed. They tried 2-6-0s when the 4-4-0s were withdrawn then admitted defeat and AFAIK changed engines to a 2-6-4T at Brockenhurst in the last years of steam.

Edited by DavidCBroad
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57 minutes ago, LMS2968 said:

I'm not a hundred percent sure on this, but I believe boat trains to Stranraer were worked by Crewe North 5X Jubilees, specially fitted with token apparatus to work over the single line sections.

Pretty certain that it was actually the Kingmoor Jubs that worked these trains forward from Carlisle (the 'Northern Irishman' sleeper being the principal train from the south); also the Clans allocated there. They apparently had detachable token apparatus, rather than permanently fitted.

 

(Sorry, not quite aligned to OP's question, who did, incidentally, ask specifically about tank engines)

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10 hours ago, GWRSwindon said:

 

I didn't expect this topic to take off quite like it has, my apologies.

 

In any case, I'm trying to figure out what sort of engines would have worked the Kirk Ronan branch of Awdry's Sodor. He mentions in the companion volume that there is a ferry service between Dublin and Kirk Ronan, with comments by his son seeming to indicate the service terminates at Vicarstown, about 30-40 miles away.

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