(Copyright Tim Hall)
This is a lovely shot from the fantastic Perrygrove Railway in Gloucestershire. Whilst the less aware amongst us may think of this as an image from the past to me it's very firmly and uncompromisingly an image of the future. The Perrygrove line uses the principles of Sir Arthur Heywood, a man so far ahead of the curve that we still haven't caught up with him! He promoted the 15 inch gauge as the minimum for real railway work. The costs are far lower than for standard gauge or indeed two foot, yet using careful engineering principles trains can carry worthwhile loads.
Unfortunately the brief petroleum interlude stopped development in the bud, but it's clear that as we leave that age then we will simply take off from where we left it, and 15 inch gauge lines will fill a very useful transport need in many parts of the UK.
The beauty of steam power of course is that it can use WOOD as a fuel source. Wood is infinitely sustainable and packs in almost as much energy as the sort of coal that's left. Any half decently managed railway in the future will, with careful woodland management, be able to provide all its own raw materials for energy (and sleepers, building materials etc), making any such line resilient and very profitable.
This is the future. Heart warming isn't it?