Sorry, double post. Just deleted everything I wrote. I'll write it again later when I get the energy up.
But, the myth that diesels replaced steam because they were so much cheaper to run is a myth. Any objective, again OBJECTIVE, examination of what happened easily reveals that point. However, arguing the point with the deeply held religious view that steam is more costly to operate and maintain is tiring and I have doing it for 30 years.
The report I posted the above link to by Brown is 80 pages of painstaking examination of the subject. Brown was one of the most pretigious and respected Design Engineers at Gibbs and Hill. He was instrumental in designing the electrification of the Pennsylvania, building the tunnels into New York and designing the New York Subway System. He was no slouch. When this report came out it created quite a controversy at the time.
This is only one of the two objective reports that were EVER done on this subject. The other one was a study done by a European Engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad in the 50's. Both reports came to the same conclusion, but it was too late to change the course of the Railroad Industry.
To sum it up in one sentance. The railroads that dieselized first, went bankrupt first. They lost market share first, discovered that the new trap of going into debt for a form of power that wore out or had to be traded in for a new version of itself before the first version was paid for, was a mistake. They found out first. Maintainance costs DID NOT decrease, operatings COSTS did not decrease, but in fact went up in many cases. The railroads had to start running long slow trains to save money because diesels are very costly and inefficient to run at high speeds since their tractive effort maxes out at around 5 MPH, and thier horsepower curve drops quickly. The faster you want to go with with diesels the more units you have to hook togther to get the needed power. When they quit running high speed, high horsepower fast frieghts with steam it cost the railroads a competive edge. Shippers voted their view of the new railroad way by switching to trucks.
The only form of service that a diesel is less costly and better for is slow speed yard switching. There its low speed tractive effort is best utilized. On the road, high speed, high horsepower steam wins the contest.
Read, "N&W Giant Of Steam," by Jefferies. The N&W provided service at a lower cost with their modern steam fleet than the dieselized railroads they competed against. They tested their home built locomotives against the best that GM could produce. The steam engines either beat or tied the diesel performance and did it at a lower cost. But, you will say that the N&W dieselized anyway. Yes they did but it was not because they wanted to or because diesels were this miracle form of power. They were forced to because the support structure and the companies that made the components for the steam power were gone, or raised the cost of individual runs of parts greatly. That was just one of the changes that forced them to change over. The N&W went into great debt for the first time in its history to dieselize. This informtion is also in the report by Brown.
Rapid dieselization was one of the big factors in the rapid financial decline of the railroad industry as a whole during the following decades after WWII, I know this flies in the face of the Railfan religion, but those are the facts.
Last edited by wsherrick
on Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:08 pm, edited 5 times in total.