P2 feasability study announced and Tornado construction debt halved.
The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, the registered charity behind Tornado, the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain for almost 50 years, today announced that it had started a feasibility study into the construction of a second new main line steam locomotive, a Gresley class P2. The Trust also announced that by the end of June 2010 the Trust will have halved the debt incurred during the construction of Tornado and that the only remaining debt associated with the locomotive will be the £500,000 bearer bond due for repayment by the end of 2016.
The first Gresley class P2 No. 2001 Cock O’ the North was completed in 1934 by the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) at its Doncaster works. It was the most powerful express passenger steam locomotive ever built for a British railway. Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LNER who also designed the famous class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman and world speed record holder class A4 4468 Mallard, the class, which was eventually to number six, was constructed for use on the arduous Edinburgh to Aberdeen route. The P2’s 2-8-2 ‘Mikado’ wheel arrangement and 6ft 2in driving wheels enabled them to haul 600 ton trains on their own, replacing two older locomotive.
However, the P2s never lived up to their potential. The advent of the streamlined trains in the late 1930s and then the second world war meant that the design was never fully developed and all six were rebuilt as 4-6-2 ‘Pacifics’ in 1943/44 by Sir Nigel Gresley’s successor Edward Thompson following Gresley’s premature death in 1941.
Speaking to supporters at ‘Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon’ where Tornado is paying a visit, Mark Allatt, chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust commented: “It has long been the desire of the Trust to build a second locomotive as it would be a great waste to allow the skills and experience that we have developed in the construction of Tornado to go unused. However, we first had to ensure the successful commercial introduction of Tornado into main line service and then work to secure her future financially.
“We are therefore delighted to announce that thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and the generosity of our Covenantors and other supporters, the debt incurred during the construction of Tornado has been halved. By the end of June 2010, all that will remain to be repaid will be the £500,000 bearer bond which is due at the end of 2016. In addition, we are able to predict with some confidence our future income steams and set aside funds for maintenance, overhauls and Tornado’s support vehicle.
“The P2 is the most frequently requested locomotive the Trust is asked to build next. In addition to its striking looks, incredible power and undoubted glamour it also has around 70% commonality with Tornado, including the boiler, tender and many other detailed fittings. However, the design was never fully developed and the locomotives failed to reach their full potential. The Trust is therefore conducting a feasibility study into the construction of a new Gresley P2, to be numbered 2007 as the next in the series. As a part of this study we are examining the commercial, engineering and certifications challenges that we would face in completing that development work to make a new P2 a success. Initial conversations with the regulatory bodies have been very positive but we have a long way to go yet.
“The aim of the study to answer the question once and for all as to whether the Trust can successfully and commercially build, certify and operate a P2. If the answer is yes, then we will launch the project. If no, then we will look at an alternative locomotive to build. Anyone wishing to play a part in this exciting venture should come on board as one of our Covenantors if they are not already.”
P2 No. 2001 Cock o' the North at Kings Cross - F.R.Hebron courtesy Rail Archive Stephenson