The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, the builders and operators of new steam locomotive Tornado, regrets to announce that it has not been possible to reach an acceptable working arrangement with Train Operating Company (TOC) West Coast Railways (WCR) in spite of many attempts over the past three years. Tornado will continue to be operated on the Network Rail main line by TOC DB Schenker, which has worked successfully with the Trust since the locomotive’s completion in 2008. This change is unrelated to the repairs to Tornado’s boiler which took place at DB Meiningen from January to March 2011.
Unfortunately, this late change will result in a significant re-working of Tornado’s tours diary for the early part of the summer. As a consequence of not being able to work with WCR, Tornado will not now be hauling ‘The Cathedrals Express’ on Thursday 26th May (London to Bath & Bristol and return), Saturday 4th June (London King’s Cross to York and return) and Saturday 11th June (London to Shrewsbury and return) promoted by Steam Dreams. Although Tornado will be ready for traffic for 26th May, her first main line train in her new Brunswick Green livery will now be ‘The Canterbury Tornado’ on Saturday 18th June from Poole (Tornado from Willesden) to Canterbury and return promoted by Pathfinder.
All maintenance and repair work on Tornado, including the re-boring of the cylinder liners, has been carried out in accordance with the Trust’s Quality Management System. This is the same system that was used to support the construction of the locomotive and has previously been subject to Notified Body audit, as part of the certification of the locomotive, leading to authorisation as a ‘new locomotive’ under the European Railways Interoperability Directive by the Office of Rail Regulation.
In preparation for operations in 2011, the Trust’s Quality Management System processes were reviewed by WCR in November 2010. The Trust’s arrangements for supplier assurance were one of several processes that were examined and no issues of significance were found.
Following preliminary examination of Tornado’s cylinder bores, it was apparent that the cylinders would need their first re-bore during the winter maintenance period. An order was placed with the Trust’s preferred contractor for this work in November 2010. However, due to the inability of the preferred contractor to meet the agreed work schedule, the Trust sought an alternative contractor who undertook the work in February 2011.
In response to verbal comments expressed by WCR management about the replacement contractor and as it was the first time the Trust had used this organisation, in accordance with the Trust’s Quality Management System the work was overseen 100% by the Trust’s engineers. The contractor also provided the Trust with a list of main line approved and other locomotives on which similar work had been done. This is, according to the Trust and its independent Vehicle Acceptance Body, a reasonable course of action and is compliant with the Trust’s approved supplier accreditation procedures.
The work has in addition been seen and passed inspections by WCR themselves and WCR appointed Qualified Independent Engineers. The Trust believes these inspections to be an appropriate action by WCR in carrying out its due diligence responsibilities. The work has also been inspected by the Trust’s independent Vehicle Acceptance Body. All parties were satisfied that the work had been carried out correctly and that the finish on the cylinder bores was to the required standard. The Trust therefore believes that WCR does not have a valid reason to refuse to operate the locomotive on account of the cylinder boring work.
The Trust will now be seeking additional heritage railway and main line work for promoters who use DB Schenker. For the latest news on Tornado’s 2011 programme please visit www.a1steam.com.
Mark Allatt, chairman, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented:
“The Trust is very disappointed not to be working with West Coast Railways during 2011 in addition to DB Schenker and can only apologise to passengers who will not now be able to travel behind Tornado on their booked trains. We will now be working closely with our partners and friends to re-shape Tornado’s 2011 programme to ensure that this popular locomotive remains accessible and in the public eye where she belongs.”