Main line steam in the Republic of Ireland could be under threat from proposed new legislation which will ban the use of smoky coal across the country from 2018, it has emerged.
RPSI Secretary Paul McCann said: “We are concerned about the impact this proposal could have on our operations in the Republic. We will be in contact with the authorities when the new government is appointed.”
The RPSI has alerted the Heritage Railway Association to the issue, and the HRA has pledged to help lobby the authorities in Dublin.
Lord Faulkner, president of the HRA, said: “I was alerted to this possibility a little while ago and have passed this on to the HRA. I stand ready to help by making any necessary representations.”
In the hope that the ban will apply just to coal burning for domestic use, the RPSI will argue that its activities have a minimal impact on air quality, and are a key part of the tourist industry.
A ban on smoky coal was introduced in Dublin in 1990. However, the RPSI’s operations have been able to continue unhindered.
If the representations are unsuccessful, one option might be to experiment with smokeless fuel, but the RPSI believes that smoky coal, with its higher combustion temperature, is a more effective power source for steam locomotives.