Peppercornn Class A1 60163 'Tornado'
Review by Doug Teggin
The original Peppercorn A1 series was ordered by the LNER, but the 49 locomotives were built at Doncaster and Darlington for British Railways (BR) in 1948–49, after the nationalisation of the railways in the United Kingdom. Following the modernisation and dieselisation plans of the 1950s, the A1 Peppercorn class was eventually scrapped at a comparatively early age of just 14 years. Other famous East Coast Mainline steam locomotives have been preserved, for example several Gresley LNER Class A4 and one LNER Class A3, 4472 Flying Scotsman, but all 49 LNER Peppercorn Class A1 locomotives were scrapped. The last was 60145 St Mungo, which survived until September 1966.
The Peppercorn A1s were designed to cope with the heaviest regular post-war East Coast trains. These were frequently 15 coaches or 550 tons. The locomotives were capable of 60-70 mph (95-110 kmh) on level track. Tornado will be able to haul 10-11 coach trains at higher speeds, to fit modern faster main lines.
Other famous East Coast Mainline steam locomotives have been preserved, for example several Gresley LNER Class A4 and one LNER Class A3, 4472 Flying Scotsman, but all 49 LNER Peppercorn Class A1 locomotives were scrapped. The last was 60145 St Mungo, which survived until September 1966.
60163 Tornado is a mainline steam locomotive built in Darlington, England. Completed in 2008, Tornado was the first such locomotive built in the United Kingdom since Evening Star, the last steam locomotive built by British Railways, in 1960. It is the only example of a LNER Peppercorn Class A1 class locomotive in existence, the entirety of the original production batch having been scrapped without preservation. The locomotive's namesake is the Panavia Tornado, a combat aircraft flown by the Royal Air Force.
Actual construction of the Tornado began in 1994, being based at Darlington Works for most of the project, while numerous components such as the boiler were manufactured elsewhere. The project was financed through fundraising initiatives such as public donations and sponsorship deals; further funding came from hiring Tornado itself on special services. Construction was completed in 2008, and full certification of the locomotive was achieved in January 2009. Having been designed with compliance to modern safety and certification standards, Tornado has been conducting passenger services on the UK rail network and on mainline-connected heritage railways since 2008 onwards.
The locomotive was built by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, a charitable trust founded in 1990 to build Tornado and possibly further locomotives. Tornado was conceived as an evolution of the LNER Peppercorn Class A1 class, incorporating improvements likely had steam continued, and changes for cost, safety, manufacturing and operational benefits, while replicating the original design's sound and appearance. Tornado, completely new-built, is considered the 50th Peppercorn A1, numbered next in the class after 60162, Saint Johnstoun, built in 1949.
The 49 original Peppercorn A1s were built in Doncaster and Darlington for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). Tornado was built in the trust's Darlington works. The original 49 locomotives were scrapped by 1966 after an average service of 15 years. None survived into preservation, and Tornado fills a gap in the classes of restored steam locomotives that used to operate on the East Coast Mainline
Tornado moved under her own power for the first time on 29 July 2008 at Darlington, and then spent two months at the preserved Great Central Railway double-track tourist railway in Loughborough, where she was tested up to 60 mph (97 km/h) and operated her first passenger train. Tornado then moved to the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York for three test runs on the main line up to 75 mph (121 km/h). After repainting into LNER Apple Green, Tornado was approved for main-line passenger operation. On 31 January 2009 she hauled her first passenger trip on the main line, The Peppercorn Pioneer, from York to Newcastle and back. By hauling various A1 Trust railtours, charters and other activities, Tornado will begin to recoup the estimated £800,000 debt from the project, which cost around £3 million.(Source: Wikipedia)
With a shorter rake of eleven coaches compared with the original Peppercorn A1's usage, Tornado is expected to achieve contemporary mainline speeds. Theoretically capable of 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), Tornado may in the future gain permission to run at 90 miles per hour (140 km/h), making her the fastest steam locomotive on the British main line. Once on the main line, Tornado is not expected to leave it again until its ten-year fire-tube boiler re-certification in late 2018.
On 21 June 2009, Tornado featured in the Top Gear Race to the North, coming second to a car in a three-way race from London to Edinburgh, against a 1949 Jaguar XK120 sports car and a 1949 Vincent Black Shadow motorbike.