Tornado, the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain for almost 50 years, is to play a starring role in the first episode of the new series of the BBC’s ‘Top Gear’ programme. Now in its thirteenth series, the first episode will be shown on BBC2 at 20:00hrs on Sunday 21st June 2009 and features a race between a Jaguar XK120 sports car, a Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle and 60163 Tornado from London to Edinburgh with presenter Jeremy Clarkson on-board. The show will be repeated on Friday 26th of June at 21.00 hours.The new £3m Peppercorn class A1 pacific steam locomotive was built over almost 20 years by The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, a registered charity, at its Darlington Locomotive Works and was officially named Tornado by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in February of this year. The locomotive has since entered regular service on excursion trains on the Network Rail main line. Frequently headlined in the national and international press and on TV and radio, No. 60163 Tornado was the subject of a BBC documentary ‘Absolutely Chuffed: The Men Who Built a Steam Engine’ broadcast on Christmas Eve on BBC2 last year.
Describing Tornado’s appearance on ‘Top Gear’, the BBC said:
“’Top Gear’ skids, roars and explodes its way back onto the TV with a brand new series. It starts with an extraordinary race as Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May set out to discover what ‘Top Gear’ might have been like 60 years ago. To this end, James grabs himself a gorgeous old Jaguar XK120 sports car whilst Richard chooses to torture himself on the brutal but rather fantastically named Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle. Meanwhile, in an almost unprecedented move, Jeremy decides to take the train. But not just any old train because he’s on the footplate of Tornado, a brand new steam locomotive built to the original design used to create some of Britain’s finest locomotives back in the heyday of the railways. Despite being old and a bit fat, Jeremy has to feed the firebox with a constant supply of coal, without which the whole train will grind to a halt. The challenge behind this race was simple – the first one to get from London to Edinburgh would be the winner – but what happens along the way adds up to one of ‘Top Gear’s’ most incredible and most epic races to date.”
Mark Allatt, chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust added:
“The Trust was thrilled to be asked to participate in this ‘Great Race to the North’ on the legendary BBC ‘Top Gear’ programme. With Jeremy Clarkson coming from Doncaster where the original Peppercorn class A1s were designed, it was most appropriate that he should be the presenter on the footplate for this epic journey. We hope that Tornado’s appearance on ‘Top Gear’ will introduce a new generation to the sheer magnificence of a steam locomotive at speed and that they will seek out the experience for themselves on one of Tornado’s main line tours.”
Tornado next appears on ‘The Cathedrals Express’ with a Fathers’ Day lunchtime and a Mid-Summer evening journey on Sunday 21st June, the longest day of the year. Having been redesigned to fit in more effectively with the modern network this will be the first time any of the famous racing pacifics from the East Coast Main Line will have operated around Kent.
The morning departure is from London Waterloo at 10:37hrs, passing through Clapham Junction and picking up at Woking at 11:16hrs. ‘The Cathedrals Express’ then runs via Farnborough, Basingstoke, Winchester and Eastleigh to Botley, arriving at 12:42hrs. After servicing, the train then departs Botley at 13:05hrs and returns via Fareham, Havant, Petersfield, Haslemere and Guildford before arriving at Woking at 14:28hrs. Tornado then retraces her steps back to London Waterloo, arriving at 15:07hrs.
The evening departure will be from London Victoria at 17:55hrs and the train will then head out via Bromley South to pick up more passengers at 18:20hrs and then head for north Kent and the Isle of Thanet. The route takes ‘The Cathedrals Express’ via Faversham, Ramsgate and Deal before Tornado tackles the long arduous climb of Martin Mill bank before passing Dover. The train then travels along the foot of the famous white cliffs at dusk before a brief stop is made at Folkestone at 20:50hrs for water. The train returns with a fast run via Ashford, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks before setting passengers down at Bromley South at 22:27hrs and London Victoria at 22:59hrs. A few seats are still available and prices for travelling are Standard Class £59.00; First Class £89.00; Premier Dining £149.00; and Pullman £199. Steam Dreams (www.steamdreams.com; Tel: 01483 209888 Email: )
The Trust respectfully requests that anyone wanting to see Tornado’s main line passenger trains follows the rules of the railway and only goes where permitted.