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The 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials - a publicity stunt more than anything?

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Doesn't it seem to anyone that the trials were just a publicity stunt more than anything else? From the PR side, showing the various locomotives performing on various lines showed the unity of BR. As I read into it, I learned that there was nothing that much technical/scientific study that was derived from the trials.



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I think some useful information was obtained, much of the information from the trials was published by BR.


There is a lot of interesting information in C J Allen's book, "The Locomotive Exchanges" second edition, published by Ian Allan in 1950.


It actually covers exchanges between various companies from 1870 onwards up to 1948.


The interesting figures from 1948 are the coal and water usage comparisons, especially per drawbar horsepower hour which showed some interesting differences between the classes tested.  For example on all regions where they were tested the Austerity 2-8-0s had a higher coal consumption than other locos tested.


The West Countries were found to be capable of producing high power outputs during the tests but at the cost of much higher coal consumption than locos of nominally similar power.


The book is well worth a read if you can get a copy.




Edited for spelling (again)

Edited by DaveF
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The 1948 trials were of interest to enthusiasts but from a statistical point of view there were too many variables to make valid judgements. With four companies involved there is always a tendency to show "We are better than the rest" even if that meant that normal practices were avoided for the trials. I have read for example, the drivers of the Bulleid pacifics were instructed to stick to the timetable regardless of fuel used. Other loco crews were coal dodging, using as little coal as possible regardless of the timetable, some were determined to run faster than anyone else. Perhaps crews were told "Do the best you can". Best for whom? The company? The driver? The fireman? Were locos chosen for the tests specially prepared by those sheds? There were simply too many variables. To go back to the OP perhaps the WDs were not well liked by the crews, who had nothing to gain from showing them in a good light. You simply cannot legislate for human nature.

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I think the intent was honest enough but the point above about 'too many variables' is well made; I have heard this said before.


And with the Cox-Riddles-Bond triumvirate in alignment, it could be argued that the result was a foregone conclusion anyway!

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