Latest in oil firing on the agenda for HRA conference

Latest in oil firing on the agenda for HRA conference

The president of a firm that specialises in advancing oil firing for steam locomotives in the United States is among the headline speakers for the Heritage Railway Association autumn 2023 conference.

With coal still a hot topic and the trend of fire risks having been only temporarily abated by this summer’s damp weather, the Heritage Railway Association is looking to the States for expertise on one potential way forward. Oil firing has been successfully used in the States since the early 1900s and advances in draughting and combustion technology mean that it could be a more practical alternative to coal than at any time before.

President of Minnesota-based FMW Solutions, Davidson Ward, will bring his expertise on oil firing conversions for historic steam locomotives to the event in Newcastle on November 7 and 8, 2023. The firm have already successfully converted locomotives ranging in size from 2-6-0s to 4-8-4s. Mr Ward will be talking about how that is possible, and how the same technology can be adopted to benefit UK-based heritage railways.

Heritage Railway Association Chief Executive, Steve Oates, said: “The subject of fuel for steam locomotives is a complicated one. As a sector we have to keep our mind open to all options, including oil firing. I’m looking forward to bringing our members up-to-speed with how our colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic are tackling some of the same challenges that we face.

“Bringing the very latest thinking in heritage rail to our members is a key reason that we hold HRA conferences. It’s not just on ‘physical’ things like coal though. The event will be covering everything from economic challenges facing the sector, to volunteer engagement and governance models.

“With the challenges we’re all seeing at the moment, it’s going to be a ‘must do’ conference that every heritage railway manager, director or trustee.”

Other speakers lined-up for the event, supported by Steam Railway Magazine, include representatives from Network Rail, the National Trust, Historic England, the Office of Rail and Road, the National Railway Museum, Crich Tramway Village and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

Coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the founding of pioneering locomotive manufacturers Robert Stephenson & Co, the event is being held in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The two-day conference is being held within sight of where locomotives like Locomotion and Rocket were built, at the Crowne Plaza hotel, on Forth Street, which is also conveniently located for Newcastle Central railway station.

Early-bird tickets for the event are available to purchase online now, starting from just £70 per day for HRA members. 

Book now