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Dieselisation or Dieselization (see spelling differences) is generally used for the nowadays increasingly common use of diesel fuel in vehicles, as opposed to gasoline or steam engines.
Additional recommended knowledge
In rail transport it refers to the replacement of the steam locomotive or electric locomotive with the diesel-electric locomotive (often referred to as a "diesel locomotive"), a process which began in the 1930s and is now substantially complete worldwide.
The replacement of either steam or diesel haulage with electric locomotives is known as electrification. In contrast to dieselisation, electrification is not perceived as generally desirable in many circumstances in the industry, because it only sometimes produces savings due to the high initial capital cost of the process. In a few countries like Switzerland and Japan, though, electrics were responsible for the end of steam.
History of dieselisation in rail transport
Dieselisation took place largely because of the reduction in operating costs it allowed. Steam locomotives require large pools of labour to clean, load, maintain and run. They also require extensive service, coaling and watering facilities. Diesel locomotives require significantly less time and labour to operate and maintain.
Impact of World War II
After World War II inflation dramatically increased labour costs in the Western World, making steam an increasingly costly form of motive power. At the same time, the war had forced improvements in internal combustion engine technology that made diesel locomotives cheaper and more powerful. The post war world also re-aligned the business and financial markets, as did world geo-politics as in the Cold War (1947-1953).
In North America, railroads looked to cut costs in the face of stiff competition from trucks, planes and automobiles. Railroads in America at this time also had an image problem, viewed as archaic, a fact that was re-enforced in the war when retired equipment was pressed into service. This left a lasting memory for millions of service people delayed for days in uncomfortable cars in obscure sidings.
Size also became an issue. American steam engines became so big in the 1940s that the cylinder and boiler sizes were pushing the limits that the loading gauge would allow. Fireboxes became so big that firing them became an almost impossible job without mechanical stokers. Diesels, to the contrary, were scalable. With multiple power units and slave locomotives, very long trains of up to 2 miles in length were possible, exploiting economies of scale. Diesels had a greater running capacity, before needing servicing, so small division points were closed.
Diesels slowly gained the advantage. Two ways they held the field was that diesels could be driven by one person, with no need of a fireman to shovel coal. Also, diesels use less fuel when idle; their fuel efficiency is much higher. Diesels can be parked running for days, and left unattended, where steam engines cannot, and diesels can pro-rate their fuel usage to the length of trains, another thing a steam engine cannot do. Due to the modern advantages of diesel locomotives, most major Class I railroads in North America had retired all of their steam locomotives by the mid 1950s.
Of course, steam haulage also had its advantages, the degree of applicability of which varied. Steam engines were cheaper and easier to maintain, particularly in developing nations.
The reputation of diesel benefited from memories of World War II, when military vehicles – especially tanks – using diesel were less prone to burst into flames when hit, than their petrol-engined counterparts.
In the United Kingdom the railway companies had been deploying diesel railcars and shunting locomotives for a while before the war, and the south east had an extensive electric network whose reach had grown throughout the century. Other less successful research went into more efficient and easily maintained steam locomotives. War efforts froze developments and progress restarted in 1947. Large scale change began in 1954 as post war financial squeezes ended.
The British Transport Commission produced the rail modernisation plan recognizing the high labour costs of steam and the need to modernise equipment, although catastrophically not the need to modernise working practices. The report made a large number of proposals including large scale dieselisation and updates to freight handling practice, the process being backed by considerable government funding. The last mainline steam traction on British Railways ended in 1968, although the British Rail owned Vale of Rheidol narrow gauge line remained steam hauled. Steam power has since been reintroduced on a few timetabled services, but this is targetted at the tourist market not efficiency.
Latin America and Asia
Latin America had their steam fleets working until the late 1960s and 1970s. Some nations, those with less oil reserves, such as India, China and South Africa used steam until the 1980s and 1990s. Russia or the Soviet Union electrified. Asian nations used steam until the 1970s when those nations modernised.
Timeline by nation
Broad (5'6") gauge - last new passenger steam 1967, last new steam 1970, last steam operation 1997 (unofficial).
Metre gauge - last new passenger steam 1970, last new steam 1972, last steam operation 2000 on Western Railway.
In terms of road transport, diesel gained popularity first with commercial hauliers, throughout the later 20th century, and then with passenger car users, particularly from the 1970s onwards, once diesel engines became more refined and also more readily available in passenger cars. Diesel had by this point long been a popular choice for taxi operators and agricultural users.
In Europe as a whole, Peugeot and Mercedes-Benz in particular developed reputations for high-quality passenger-car diesel engines, whilst VM Motori developed some significant motors for four-wheel drive vehicles.
Energy policy and politics
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Dieselisation". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|