Monday, January 05, 2009


This is just so cool! As usual the British enthusiasm for steam engines has amazed me yet again. It seems a bunch of die hard enthusiasts have built a fully operational steam locomotive, based on a pre-existing design, but with upgraded features, as such an engine might have had if the British hadn't abandoned steam in the 1960's.

The first steam train built in Britain in almost fifty years!

BBC articles, with additional video 2 3

60163 Tornado is a brand new main line steam locomotive built in Darlington, England. It is the first such locomotive to be built in the United Kingdom since Evening Star, the last steam locomotive built by British Rail, in 1960. Designed and built to meet modern safety and certification standards, Tornado will run on the UK rail network passenger main lines around the country, as well as on mainline connected heritage railways. The locomotive is named after the Panavia Tornado military jet.

The locomotive was built by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, a charitable trust founded in 1990, for the purposes of building Tornado, and possibly further locomotives. Tornado was conceived by the Trust not as a replica or a restoration project, but as an evolution of the LNER Peppercorn Class A1 class of locomotives, incorporating likely improvements to the design had steam continued, and changes for cost, safety regulation, manufacturing and operational benefits, while replicating the original design's sound and appearance. As such, being a completely new build original machine, Tornado is considered as the 50th Peppercorn A1, numbered next in the class after the last member built in 1949, 60162 Saint Johnstoun.

The original 49 Peppercorn A1 locomotives were built in Doncaster and Darlington for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), while Tornado was built in the Trust's Darlington Locomotive Works. The original 49 locomotives were all scrapped by 1966 after a comparatively short 15 year average service life. None of the class survived into preservation, and as such Tornado fills a gap in the classes of restored steam locomotives that used to operate on the East Coast Main Line.

Tornado moved under its own power for the first time in July 2008 at Darlington, and then spent two months at the preserved Great Central Railway double-track tourist railway in Loughborough, where it was tested up to speeds of 60 mph (97 km/h) and operated its first passenger train. Tornado was then moved to the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York, where it completed three test runs on the main line network, up to speeds of 75 mph (121 km/h). Once approved for the mainline, Tornado is due to operate its first main-line passenger train on 31 January 2009, after which it will begin to recoup the estimated £800,000 debt remaining from the project, which cost around £3 million, through hauling various railtours and charters.

With a shorter rake of 11 coaches compared with the original Peppercorn A1's usage, it is expected that Tornado will achieve contemporary mainline operating speeds. Theoretically capable of 100 mph (160 km/h), Tornado will be limited to a top speed of 90 mph (140 km/h), making it the fastest operational steam locomotive on the UK main line. Once on the main line, Tornado is not expected to leave it again until its 10-year fire-tube boiler re-certification is due.

Tornado at Wikipedia

1 comment:

Cyan said...

Very cool!