Tornado – a further update

Following Tornado’s failure on ‘The Ebor Flyer’ at Sandy on Saturday 14th April 2018, the locomotive was hauled to Peterborough by GBRF class 66 No. 66744 Crossrail, removed from the train at Peterborough and immediately transferred to the nearby Nene Valley Railway where it was taken to their principal maintenance location at Wansford. ‘The Ebor Flyer’ then continued its journey to York diesel hauled. RAIB were notified on the day and ORR are aware of the incident.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust would like to apologise to anyone whose journey was disrupted on Saturday, be that on ‘The Ebor Flyer’ or on service trains affected.

On Sunday 15th April, in the presence of one of DB Cargo’s appointed independent steam locomotive examiners, a thorough pit inspection and strip-down of the immediately affected components was undertaken. What we know so far is that the front valve on the middle valve spindle seized in the valve liner. This caused significant stresses to the combination lever which failed, causing the loss of the lower part of it, allowing it and the union link to flail which in turn caused the lower part of the drop link to separate from the crosshead. This is almost certainly due to a lubrication failure in that area, although the exact cause of such a failure is not known at the present time and investigations continue in this area. We are also examining all components and reviewing all relevant records and design and installation drawings. The nature of the failure suggests that even at 75mph the incident would have occurred. All damage thereafter is consequential and would readily explain how parts of the inside valve gear became detached in the manner they did.

The Trust is carrying out its own investigation and working alongside DB Cargo, our certification body and our insurers.

The locomotive is being carefully dismantled and as well as the obvious visual exams, NDT and other techniques are also being used.

Independent of this, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust has secured the services of First Class Partnerships (FCP) to provide an overview and independent opinion on both the immediate causes and effect of the failure and the wider impact on the future main line running of No. 60163 Tornado.

As to repairs, the locomotive will require the valve liner to be honed or bored, and a new valve head and rings fitted. A new combination lever, union link and crosshead are also needed. Other items will require inspection and possible repair, but a full list hasn’t yet been produced and agreed. Jeremy Hosking’s Royal Scot Locomotive and General Trust has kindly offered to lend us the combination lever and the inside union link from Peppercorn class A2 No. 60532 Blue Peter as these are likely to be the longest lead time items to make. We would like to thank them and also the other suppliers and contractors who have contacted us to offer help. It is too early to quantify the total cost but that of the replacement of the known damaged parts is around £20,000. Tornado is insured, but not all items will be covered – we will know more in the coming days. However, our understanding of the information available to date is that the breakdown was not speed related and could have occurred at any time.

The Trust is humbled to have received messages of support from across the country, internationally and from senior rail industry partners. Such messages are very encouraging as the Trust looks to recover from the disappointment of the events of Saturday 14th April.

Because we did not deliver the day out we hoped to for passengers travelling on ‘The Ebor Flyer’, we have given each passenger a discount off a future Tornado-hauled railtour. Furthermore, we are looking at the option of re-running the train in the future with a repaired Tornado and will ensure all passengers on ‘The Ebor Flyer’ get the first chance to book tickets.

Following on from this, we have postponed our visit to the Midland Railway Centre (Saturday 21st April 2018) and we have also postponed ‘The Ynys Môn Express’ which was due to run on Saturday 28th April 2018, a date is yet to be confirmed as to when this tour will be rescheduled. Additionally, we regret that we will be rearranging the Tornado Team day that was due to be at the Nene Valley Railway on Saturday 12th May 2018 – again a rescheduled date will be announced in due course.

You can support the work of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust by becoming one of our monthly Covenantors and donating from £10.00 per month towards No. 60163 Tornado. This is our core fundraising initiative and we have around 1,200 people who regularly donate towards the maintenance and upkeep of Tornado. For more information on how you can support the Trust in this way, or to make a one-off Donation, please click here, call 01325 460163 or email enquiries@a1steam.com.