coaledsweat wrote:mikeandgerry wrote:coaledsweat wrote:The drives take a pounding and require frequent rebuilds, kind of expensive to maintain.
The original author, wsherrick, said the opposite:They also cost less to run and maintain and produced more productivity per train mile than the diesels they were compared against.
I think you two had better hash it out.
Maybe the author doesn't know there is difference between operating expenses (cost of operating) and maintenance expenses (cost of maintaining). Steam Locomotives require continuous maintenance and still beat themselves to death in short order requiring rebuilds that take them out of service. They don't make money when they are out of service. If they were cheaper to run, why did they disappear in a decade when the diesel electric was perfected?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LocomotiveDiesel locomotives require considerably less maintenance than steam, with a corresponding reduction in the number of personnel needed to keep the fleet in service. The best steam locomotives spent an average of three to five days per month in the shop for routine maintenance and running repairs. Heavy overhauls were frequent, often involving removal of the boiler from the frame for major repairs. In contrast, a typical diesel locomotive requires no more than eight to ten hours of maintenance per month. and may run for many years between heavy overhauls.
The author is quite experienced with both diesel and steam locomotives. At the risk of starting a heated debate which has raged for 60 plus years. These are the facts,(with all due respect)and I can back them up. What the other posters have stated here is what has been circulated over and over for decades. In reality, diesels have an economic service life of about 15 years, whereas a steam locomotive has a service life of about 40 years. Steam engines do not cost more to maintain than diesels, this was proven by the only TWO independent studies of the matter ever done. The only form of service where a diesel has a cost advantage is in slow speed switching service. In long distance or high speed service, steam wins every time. The maintenance curve on a diesel rises at an exponential rate after it is about 5 years old or so, a steam locomotive is also (like any machine) more expensive to maintain as it ages, however; after about 5 to 7 years its maintenance cost curve flattens out. The true measure of any cost efficiency is the bottom line. In 1944 when most railroads were still all steam the rate of return on investment was about 4%. In 1960 that had fallen to about 1.5 to 2%. It is also a fact that the railroads who dieselized first also had their rates of return fall first. The actual statistics don't support any of the commonly stated claims that diesels saved on labor costs, repair costs or operating costs. In fact, many railroads borrowed themselves into bankruptcy buying diesels on credit that wore out and had to be replaced with new diesels way before the first batch of diesels had been paid off. The financing and interest that had to be paid on the diesels was an unsupportable cost that was added to the normal costs of operation. Dieselization was a huge blunder. The railroads that wanted to retain steam (like the Norfolk and Western) couldn't in the long run because after the the majority of railroads dieselized the support industry for steam disappeared and replacement parts were no longer available. The N&W built their own locomotives, one of the few railroads that did so and by the mid 1950's couldn't do that any more. The N&W had to borrow 86 MILLION dollars to dieselize and had to pay interest of 7 Million plus per year in interest on that debt. The advertised cost savings of the diesel obviously didn't cover that huge cost. The best study to read is H.F. Brown's, "Economic Results of Diesel Electric Power on the Railroads of the United States. This report was prepared in 1960 because the Internal Revenue Service was reacting to the fact that all of the sudden the Railroad Industry needed to be able to write off depreciation on diesels after about 12 to 15 years rather than the 30 to 40 years formally allowed for steam power. This report is about 80 pages long and it lays out all of the real costs of what happened during dieselization. This report was circulated around the World and caused quite a stir when it came out.