February 1804 a Steam powered Locomotive build by Richard Trevithick pulled 5 wagons over 9 miles at Tydfil in South Wales, England. 1825 had been the year of birth for Steam Traction of a train with passengers, when a mixed train consisting of 6 coal-wagons and one wagon prepared for passengers opened the first public rail-transport from Stockton to Darlington in North England with a Steam Locomotive build by George Stephenson.
For over 100 years Steam-Trains have been a synonym for Railways. Steam Locomotives reached the technical climax during World War II. The most powerful and most heavy Steam Locomotive ever build has been the “BIG BOY” of Union Pacific with over 7000 hps. Steam Locomotives have a very low thermal efficiency and need high service and maintenance capacity before and after each run. In the 1920-ties Railway Companies in USA and Europe experimented with Petrol Combustion Motor Rail-Cars. It took nearly another 20 years, until more powerful and reliable Diesel Engines had been at disposal. American Locomotive Builders and Electrical Companies have been the forerunners for Diesel-electric Transmission. The German Government Railways experimented in the 1930-ties with hydraulic transmission with torque-converters in order to save weight. Nowadays Diesel-hydraulic and Diesel-electric Locomotives have replaced Steam Locomotives. Diesel Locomotives can be build with up to 5000 hps. If higher Tractive-Effort is needed Locomotives can be coupled for Multi-Traction synchronized by computer technology. In USA one can spot Trains with up to 7 Diesel-Engines.
Steam Locomotives have found nowadays a niche for nostalgic and scenic Railways around the Globe and on some Hill Pinion-Railway Systems with steep gradients. In USA and Russia trials are under way with Liquid Gas instead of Diesel-fuel. In Germany Bombardier mounted 4 smaller conventional series Diesel-engines from heavy road vehicles as so-called “Power-Packs” instead of one big powerful Engine into the Locomotive. This renders a better fuel efficiency, better exhaustion values and economical advantages in maintenance, service and repairs. The Technical Paper covers the developments from 1825 to 2014.
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From Steam to Diesel Traction