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You only have to look at Bulleid's 'Leader' to see how it might have all ended in tears....

The thermal efficiency of a steam propelled locomotive was woeful at best, and gaspingly appalling at worst. Even with the latest technology available atthis minute, the 14% efficiency of the British 'improved' Class 5 bears no comparison with even a clapped-out old Alco dismal running on half its cylinders.

The only time ANY reciprocating steam engine approached efficient working was when used at constant rpm in a ship, for days on end....

The next step up, the steam turbine, was also tried on both sides of the Atlantic, and were massive and extraordinarily expensive failures.

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