On the first steam day of the 2022 season, with Hudswell Clarke 1238 doing the duty, a trial of the “e-coal” was carried out. This is a product claimed to be more sustainable compared to mined coal, with lower CO2 emissions and visible smoke.
Results were slightly mixed, with a long wait for the loco to get into steam (apologies to the passengers of the 1130 train who had an unexpected diesel substitution for their journey); the fireman was heard to observe that the plastic bag probably burnt better than the coal. However, once the loco was in steam, the product seems to perform well, and certainly makes less smoke than more conventional fuels.
It has the added benefit of the property of tesselation, so all the lumps fit together in a nice pattern. Some of the crews find that sort of thing deeply satisfying.
See the Focus Transport posting here on the recent Homefire e-coal trial at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.
Steam railways are finding it extremely difficult to source good quality steam coal due to continued closure of mines, coupled with the lack of supply from Russia.
More details about the railway can be found below