The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust and its contractors continue to work hard to return No. 60163 Tornado to traffic following the locomotive’s failure on ‘The Ebor Flyer’ in April. Unfortunately, there will be a further delay to Tornado's return to traffic due to the ongoing hot weather and a need to replace one of the outside union links due to the identification of a tiny flaw in its surface.
This defect only affects the hardened surface of the union link, rather than the strong core, but requires replacement before main line operations can recommence. This is not considered to be associated with the failure of the locomotive on the 14th April and does not prohibit operations at 25mph on a preserved railway. It is anticipated that a new union link will be completed in early August and will then require fitting to the locomotive which takes two to three days. We are grateful to Robert Stephenson and his team, of Stephenson Engineering Ltd of Atherton, for the fast turnaround in manufacturing the new union link. This process requires a new forging and then there are machining and case hardening processes to complete.
We have undertaken the critical next stage in reassembly of the locomotive by confirming with our certification body and operator DB Cargo that the repair work carried out to date, including key components newly manufactured, are to the correct specifications. The next key inspection will be in the following seven days at which point the reassembly of the locomotive can then be completed ready for operations. It is likely that several further inspections will be required during test running and as part of a main line loaded test run.
The on-going hot weather continues to cause concern around our ability to test the locomotive at 25mph and complete running in activities. There is currently a steam ban on the Nene Valley Railway where the locomotive will be tested and run in. At present there is a steam ban on many preserved railways and on most of Network Rail a diesel is required to provide most of the traction power thus prohibiting a test run. In some places, such as the West Coast Main Line, no steam at all can run under any operating conditions. We continue to monitor this situation closely to ensure we can complete as much running in as possible and schedule a test run just as soon as is practical.
As a consequence of these delays we have, unfortunately, had to cancel the planned circular tours from Darlington on Sunday 29th July and we are postponing ‘The Mad Hatter’ railtour which will now run in Spring 2019 on a date yet to be confirmed. Our booking agent UK Railtours is contacting all affected passengers.
We have also spoken with our railtour operating customers and recommended that they work with us to identify a replacement locomotive for other trains in mid-August due to the issues described above. It is hoped that the locomotive will be reassembled and operational by this time, but the continued hot weather means that we are not confident that we will be able to complete the necessary running in and main line test runs in time to operate these trains.
As such the following applies to our programme: -
• Sunday 29th July - Darlington Circulars – Cancelled
• Wednesday 1st August – ‘The Mad Hatter’ - Postponed to Spring 2019
• Saturday 11th August – ‘Settle and Carlisle Golden Express 1’ - Hauled by another locomotive
• Wednesday 15th August – ‘Settle and Carlisle Golden Express 2’ - Hauled by another locomotive
• Saturday 18th August – ‘The Bard of Avon’ - Hauled by another locomotive
The above are subject to any restrictions due to high fire risk imposed by Network Rail. Passengers will be contacted directly by the appropriate railtour promoter or booking agent when more information becomes available. It is planned that Tornado will return to traffic on the 27th August with ‘The Canterbury Tale’ from Peterborough to Canterbury and return.
The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust apologises for the disappointment that this will cause to all passengers who have booked on these trains and our supporters - we hope that there will be something of interest in the remainder of our 2018 and our yet-to-be-published 2019 programme of railtours and heritage railway visits.
We would like to thank our supporters, friends and colleagues in the industry for their support and assistance as we return Tornado to operations.