When Tornado, the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain since 1960, starred on BBC Top Gear (Sunday 21st June 2009) it was watched by over seven million viewers. This first episode of the thirteenth series featured a ‘Great Race to the North’ 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 race has been repeated many times and is now available on DVD.
For the first time the ‘Great Race to the North’ is to be repeated by Tornado as part of the ‘Christmas Coronation’ railtour organised by promoter Steam Dreams and tickets are still available. This historic trip, which will see Tornado covering over 1,000 miles in the space of three days, will take place from Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th November. The outward journey will depart from London King’s Cross on Thursday 18th November with an expected departure time of 0820hrs then follow in the footsteps of last year’s Top Gear ‘Great Race to the North’ running from London to Edinburgh, the full length of the historic East Coast Main Line, arriving in the Scottish Capital around nine hours after leaving London. The return leg will run from Edinburgh to London Euston on Saturday 20th November via the rival West Coast Main Line, the first steam hauled train to run from Scotland right through to London via this route since the 1960s.
Making up the final 270 miles of steam over the three days is an optional excursion on Friday 19th November from Edinburgh to Carlisle heading out via Newcastle then back via Beattock and Carstairs, traversing the hilly Shotts route on the way back to Edinburgh.
Just at the start of the Christmas season, this trip presents the perfect opportunity for a short getaway for some festive shopping with Edinburgh’s wide range of shops providing something for everyone. Princes Street and George Street stretch for nearly a mile and offer designer stores as well as all the main high street brands sitting alongside top department stores.
Prices for this spectacular trip start at £249 for a Standard Class ticket, £349 for First Class, £449 for Premier Dining and £575 for Pullman Style Dining. Tables for two may be booked in both Premier Dining and Pullman Style Dining for an additional £50 per table. The Carbon Neutral charge for this trip is £3 per person and will automatically be added at the time of booking. The ‘Christmas Coronation’ can be booked through Steam Dreams at www.steamdreams.com , tel: 01483 209888 or email: .
Estimated timings are as follows:
Thursday 18th November: London departure: 0820hrs; Edinburgh arrival: 1800hrs
Saturday 20th November: Edinburgh departure: 0900hrs; London arrival: 1930hrs
Mark Allatt, chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust added:
“The Trust was thrilled to be asked to participate in the ‘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. Tornado’s appearance on Top Gear introduced a new generation to the sheer magnificence of a steam locomotive at speed and the ‘Christmas Coronation’ is a unique opportunity for fans of Top Gear to re-trace Jeremy Clarkson’s challenging journey .”
Describing Tornado’s appearance on Top Gear, the BBC said:
“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.”