Keighley Heritage Railway Trials Boost Bio-coal Progress 

The first ever trial of bio-coal in a full size, standard gauge, locomotive took place on February 14 2022. The trials, featuring British Railways Standard ‘2MT’ 2-6-0 No. 78022, were conducted on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. They pitted a trial batch of Homefire Ecoal, developed by CPL Industries Ltd for use in steam locomotives, against the steeply graded, five-mile-long line in West Yorkshire. 

The trials were the first on standard gauge locomotives with this new generation of fuels and the third in a planned series. The previous two trials were run in June and November 2021 on the narrow gauge Bure Valley Railway and gave sufficient confidence to progress onto standard gauge. The trials are a collaboration between the Heritage Railway Association, member railways, CPL Industries Ltd and the Advanced Steam Traction Trust. The aim is to find an alternative to traditional steam coal, which is proving increasingly hard to source. 

To closely replicate normal working conditions, a full operating day timetable was followed. The trial also used a rake of five carriages, the same that No. 78022 would be expected to haul using traditional coal. The Homefire Ecoal blend has been carefully changed following the last steam railway trials, which took place in November 2021 at the 15in gauge Bure Valley Railway. The main aim of the KWVR trials was to prove the concept in a standard gauge locomotive, but also to further refine the composition of the fuel. It is planned to publish the results at the Heritage Railway Association’s Spring Conference in March.

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