Brand-new steam loco heads for London

The first mainline steam locomotive to be built in Britain for nearly 50 years is due to haul her first train to London this weekend.

Tornado made a successful maiden journey with fare-paying passengers on 31 January, on a round trip between York and Darlington. Seats on that first train, and a follow-up the next day, were reserved for members of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, which built the £3m engine.

The London train, The Talisman, will start at Darlington where new Peppercorn class A1 60163 Tornado was constructed, picking up at York and travelling on to London King’s Cross station on Saturday 7 February. The Talisman was British Railways’ prestigious London-Edinburgh express, which symbolised the post-war renaissance of the East Coast Main Line.

The 2009 train will consist of 13 carriages, equating to about 500 tonnes, and will run at up to 75mph.

In 1948 and 1949, the newly nationalised British Railways built 49 class A1 Pacifics at its Doncaster and Darlington works, to the design of the LNER's last chief mechanical engineer, Arthur Peppercorn. The last was scrapped in 1966.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust has built Tornado to the original design, but with additional water capacity and the latest railway safety electronics, to run on main line and preserved railways. It is painted in an apple green livery with ‘British Railways’ on the tender as carried by the first 30 of the original class A1s.

Mark Allatt, chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, said: "Tornado’s first train to London is the opening of a new chapter in the story of a project that many said could never be completed. In 1990 a group was formed with a vision and the determination to make it succeed – to build and operate a Peppercorn class A1 Pacific steam locomotive for main line and preserved railway use. Nineteen years later, and thanks to that shared vision and determination, Tornado hauled her first passenger train on the Network Rail main line in front of the world’s press and an estimated 10,000 people on 31 January 2009.

"It is thanks to our more than 2,000 regular monthly and other donors, our sponsors led by William Cook Cast Products Limited and the hard work of our volunteers and contractors that the project has achieved so much. The Trust is now looking to the great British public to help us keep Tornado on the main line by making a donation, sponsoring a component, taking part in our covenant scheme and/or our £500,000 bond issue to help repay the £832,000 borrowed to complete her construction."

Image: © Geoff Griffiths; from the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust Library

Recent articles

Info Message

Our sites use cookies to support some functionality, and to collect anonymous user data.

Learn more about IET cookies and how to control them