90mph testing for Tornado in spring 2017, new mainline connected base and Gresley class V4 planned
The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust announced at its Annual Convention on Saturday 1st October that it would be building a state-of-the-art charter train. The train is to be constructed from locomotive hauled Mk3 carriages currently in use in East Anglia which will be extensively refurbished and overhauled for their new role.
The yet-to-be named new train will set new standards in a railtour market long dominated by difficult to maintain 60 years or older vehicles. As with all modern trains, it will be equipped with air conditioning, central door locking, controlled emission toilets, power at seat and persons with restricted mobility facilities. The passenger vehicles will also all be fitted with opening windows so those travelling can still experience the sound of Tornado working hard more clearly should they wish to do so and consideration is being given to equipping them with Wi-Fi. Although the final formation of the train is yet to be determined, it will include kitchen car(s) to enable high quality meals to be delivered to 250 First Class Dining passengers, a new support coach which will provide accommodation for the support crew and the locomotive’s day-to-day spares and consumables and a service vehicle with generator and staff accommodation. The train will also carry sufficient additional water to extend Tornado’s range to around 200 miles. The refurbished train is expected to enter service towards the end of 2019.
Covenantors at Darlington Locomotive Works – Bob Hughes
The Trust also announced that Tornado would be undertaking test runs in spring 2017 which will pave the way for 90mph operation on selected routes. Engineering activity is now developed to enable tests, which has the full support of the Trust’s operator DB Cargo. The ability to run at 90mph will enable shorter journey times and for Tornado to fit in better with the increasingly congested modern railway.
It was also announced that the Trust is seeking a new site in the Darlington area with larger facilities for new steam locomotive construction, maintenance, operations and education. The new site would be main line connected with the potential for a turntable and a carriage shed for the new train. A detailed plan is close to being finalised and initial discussions have already been held with Darlington Borough Council, Network Rail and the Heritage Lottery Fund – all of whom have been supportive of the plan.
Finally, it was announced that the Trust’s next new steam locomotive to follow new Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales would be a Gresley class V4 2-6-2 mixed traffic locomotive which was Sir Nigel Gresley’s last design. Work will be starting within the next 12 months on a design book to be created within 3D CAD, with this to be followed by a Gresley class V3 2-6-2 tank engine. Mark Allatt, chairman, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, said, “This year’s convention was probably our most successful ever, with over 240 covenantors, family and friends attending a series of presentations from Trustees on our work over the past 12 months and our plans for the future. Over 100 stayed on for our annual dinner and we are delighted that over £40,000 was raised from our supporters over the weekend for both No. 60163 Tornado and No. 2007 Prince of Wales, including £10,000 from Accucraft towards Tornado’s tender purchase”.
“The Trust’s exciting plans for its own state-of-the-art train, 90mph operation for Tornado, a new main line connected base in Darlington and further new build LNER steam locomotives demonstrate that after over 25 years of innovation, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust remains at the forefront of the railway heritage movement.”