North Yorkshire Moors Railway to convert steam locomotive Dame Vera Lynn to run on oil amid coal shortages

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway will restore a steam locomotive to run on oil in an experiment due to fears over future supplies of coal to heritage lines.

The Vera Fund confirmed in a recent edition of NYMR supporters’ magazine Moors Line that the engine Dame Vera Lynn will be converted to run on the alternative fuel during its current overhaul.

The decision comes after senior NYMR managers visited Florida last winter to observe oil-fired locomotives in action.

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Fund volunteers said: “As coal will become increasingly difficult to source forever, oil firing is something that has to be taken seriously. WD (War Department) locomotives were fitted with this apparatus during the war, so it is tried and tested. It seems the logical engine to receive this treatment and further information and developments will be shared when known.”

The Dame Vera Lynn Steam Train courtesy of NYMRThe Dame Vera Lynn Steam Train courtesy of NYMR
The Dame Vera Lynn Steam Train courtesy of NYMR

Dame Vera Lynn is an ‘Austerity’ class steam locomotive used for heavy freight workings during World War Two. The government’s War Department owned them, with some being sent on active service in France and the Middle East.

After the war, British Railways bought 25 of them, but others were shipped to the Netherlands, Greece and even Syria. Most had been retired by the 1960s. The renamed Dame Vera Lynn was taken to the NYMR for restoration after being ‘repatriated’ from Greece’s state railways.

There has been concern for several years about the availability of suitable coal supplies for steam running. The Welsh open cast mine, Ffos-y-Fran, which supplies around 150 heritage lines is due to close later this year. Imports from Russia have been affected by the war in Ukraine.