Mallard 75 - Celebrating Britains Greatest Steam Moments

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On July 3, , Mallard, a brand new streamlined London and North Eastern Railway Pacific designed under the direction of Gresley and named after the birds the famous engineer kept in the moat of his Hertfordshire home, streaked down Stoke Bank between Grantham and Peter borough at two miles a minute, peaking for a few critical yards at mph.

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This was a world record for steam on the railways. It has yet to be beaten.

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Across the Atlantic the silver streamlined locomotives of the Milwaukee Road, designed by Charles H Bilty and the Alco locomotive works in upstate New York, galloped daily between Chicago and Minneapolis and St Paul at well over mph but may well have sprinted up to mph and more. This is wishful thinking, though the greatest steam locomotive engineer of all, Chapelon , was working on plans for a future generation of highly efficient passenger loco motives for SNCF, the French state railway, with top speeds of up to kph, or mph.

Such loco motives could have been built. Chapelon believed that steam should have been progressed throughout the Fifties and Sixties, giving way on main lines in the developed world only to the high speed electrics we admire in France and Japan today.

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However what Chapelon and the other last great steam engineers railed against was the change from steam to oil-burning diesels, especially if that oil had to be imported. And the extraction, supply and politics of the oil needed for diesels led to disputes, embargos and war. This argument holds today and so much so that the development of steam is back on the rails again.

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Environmental researchers at the University of Minnesota have started work recently with the nonprofit SRI Sustainable Rail International to design and build the. Sign up.

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