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5AT Home Page | Advanced Steam Traction

5AT Home Page


When the 5AT Project was suspended in 2012, the 5AT project team rebranded itself as The Advanced Steam Traction Trust (ASTT).
The original 5AT website was lost in May 2017 when its hosting service provider moved its files onto a new server.  Most of its pages have been recovered from Google’s and Yahoo’s cashes and these are now in the process of being re-established on this new 5AT section of ASTT’s website.

Note: Reconstruction of the 5AT website will take some weeks to complete.
During this time, embedded links on this and most other pages will not be reconnected.

The text of the 5AT Website’s home page is reproduced as follows:


No other product of man’s mind has ever exercised such a compelling hold upon the public’s imagination as the steam locomotive. No other machine in its day has been a more faithful friend to mankind, nor has contributed more to the growth of industry in this, the land of its birth and indeed throughout the whole world. Those who have lived in the steam age of railways will carry the most nostalgic memories right to the end..”

The words of R F Hanks, Chairman of the Western Area Board of British Railways at a ceremony in Swindon Works on 18th March 1960, marking the end of steam locomotive construction in the UK with the completion and naming of 9F 2-10-0 No 92220 “Evening Star”.


The 5AT Project

Mr Hanks’ words (above) are as true today as they were in 1960, though the nostalgia and passion that the steam locomotive generates has extended far wider, and for far longer, than he could have imagined. Most preserved steam operated railways in the UK continue to attract record numbers of visitors each year, and 2009 witnessed widespread public interest and enthusiasm when “Tornado“, the first main line steam locomotive to be built in the UK since “Evening Star“, made its public debut on the nation’s railways.

The 5AT Project aimed to go a step further, namely to build the first new steam locomotive incorporating all the proven technical advances that have been developed since 1960 in order to generate the power, speed, range and reliability that may one day be needed to maintain an ongoing presence for steam traction on the main line rail network of the future.

The 5AT Project was suspended in 2012 due to lack of financial support, however the 5AT Group which spawned from it, is now pursuing new goals.

The 5AT Group

The 10 years spent by the 5AT Group in the planning and promotion of the 5AT Project were not in vain.  Indeed, the group is continuing in the guise of the Advanced Steam Traction Trust, and pursuing the same aim of maintaining a future presence for steam traction on main and heritage rail lines through the application of technical improvements to increase locomotive performance and reliability, reduce both carbon and spark emissions, and minimize operating and maintenance costs.

This 5AT website outlines some of the Modernising Options that are available to locomotive owners and builders.  It explains the Principles of Modern Steam and providing examples of what can be achieved (see Modern Steam Miscellany).


5AT Project Legacy

The 5AT Project, proposed by David Wardale in the concluding pages of his seminal book “The Red Devil and Other Tales from the Age of Steam“, aimed to build the first new steam locomotive incorporating all the proven technical advances developed since the 1960s, and was aimed at delivering the level of range, power, speed and reliability that will one day be needed to maintain  steam on the 21st Century main line railway.

The 5AT Project failed to attract the £11 million funding that was needed to design and construct the locomotive and its abandonment was publically announced in early 2012.

The Project Feasibility Study, completed in 2010, included a complete set of Fundamental Design Calculations by David Wardale which spell out the design calculations for the development of virtually any new Modern Steam locomotive design.  The calculations can be adapted to “modernise” existing locomotives and recreations of old designs.  The Fundamental Design Calculations, plus the use of 21st Century Design Tools and Techniques are the foundation of the Trust’s capability to offer its services to the heritage railways, mainline steam locomotives and new-build steam projects.

Features of the 5AT included:

  • Maximum continuous operating speed of 180 km/h (113 mph) to keep up with modern rail traffic; and a maximum design speed of 200 km/h (125 mph);
  • High power to weight ratio: 1890 kW (2535 hp) at the drawbar (indicated power 2380 kW or 3200 hp) at 113 km/h (70 mph) from an 80 tonne locomotive;
  • Optimised adhesion to control slipping;
  • High thermal efficiency (for steam traction) of approximately 14%;
  • Wide route availability – 20 tonne axle load;
  • Simplicity, reliability, easy maintenance and servicing;
  • High capacity tender to provide extended range;
  • Low fuel and water consumption (see note below);
  • Low operating costs;
  • Low maintenance costs;
  • Conformance to latest safety regulations;
  • Good crew conditions;
  • Gas-oil fuel (similar to diesel) with an option for a coal fired version.

The 5AT’s fuel and water ranges are calculated to be 925 km (570 miles) and 610 km (380 miles) respectively under representative average service conditions, and 552 km (345 miles) and 367 km (230 miles) respectively at maximum drawbar power – i.e. at 1890 kW (2535 hp) and 113 km/h (70 mph). See Operating Range page.