Tornado, the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain for almost 50 years, will be heading back to London on Saturday 7th November with 'The Thames Tornado', organised by Pathfinder Tours. This is a Tornado excursion with a difference, with heavy climbs, fast main line running, a tour of the Surrey Hills and a twisting route through the metropolitan suburbs to London Victoria.
‘The Thames Tornado’ will start from Ealing Broadway station diesel hauled, picking up passengers via Berkshire, Wiltshire and Severnside to Gloucester, where the train will exchange its older diesel locomotive for more modern traction, in the form of one year old A1 Pacific 60163 Tornado. Upon departure, a short sprint will lead to Standish Junction, where a speed restriction applies for the turnout onto the Swindon line. For some distance the grades are easy as Tornado works her way through Stroud and into the beautiful and twisting Golden Valley, with speed restrictions preventing a run at the fearsome climb to come, steepest after Chalford and over Frampton Mansell Viaduct, only easing on entry into Sapperton Tunnel. Soon after the exit the train will pass the 'Source of the Thames', on the downhill run through Kemble to Swindon, where the train will join the Bristol and South Wales main line.
Water will be taken before ‘The Thames Tornado’ passes Didcot and the run down the Thames Valley to Reading. Here, instead of taking the more usual main line to London via Slough, the train will take the cross-country route through attractive countryside, via Wokingham to Guildford, winding its way across the London to Portsmouth line before turning east. There will be some hard climbing to be done as Tornado makes her way through the delightful Surrey Hills, stopping once again to take water. Descent through Reigate leads to Redhill and the Brighton main line, along which the train will race away to East Croydon.
The nature of the route will then change again as the train enters the outer London suburbs, up and down through busy suburban stations, where the train’s passage is sure to raise an eyebrow or two as the whistling, apple green steam locomotive slots into the short gaps between the service of frequent modern electric trains. A final downhill run will bring ‘The Thames Tornado’ to one of the busiest railway stations in the world, Clapham Junction, from where it soon enters the Battersea Tangle, the amazing maze of lines that leads past the shell of Battersea Power Station, over the River Thames, and into London Victoria, where passengers will be able to take a break of over an hour before the diesel hauled return journey, setting down passengers from Reading right through to Gloucester as per the outward journey.
Tornado is returning to London from a visit to the Severn Valley Railway (24th October to 6th November), the Trust’s annual convention at Barrow Hill on 17th October and her first trains over the iconic Settle to Carlisle Railway on 3rd, 4th and 10th October.
Tornado was chosen to haul the British leg of 'The Winton Train' from Harwich Parkeston Quay (International) to London's Liverpool Street station on Friday 4th September 2009. This train commemorated the 'Kindertransport' trains and celebrated the life of Sir Nicholas Winton who rescued 669 mainly Jewish children from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1939. Tornado also stared in the first episode of the new series of the BBC's 'Top Gear' programme on Sunday 21st June 2009 racing a Jaguar XK120 car and Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle from London to Edinburgh, with presenter Jeremy Clarkson on-board. The programme was watched by over seven million people. The new £3m Peppercorn class A1 pacific steam locomotive was built over almost 20 years by The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, a registered charity, at its Darlington Locomotive Works in Darlington, Country Durham. Frequently headlined in the national and international press and on TV and radio, No. 60163 Tornado was the subject of a BBC documentary 'Absolutely Chuffed: The Men Who Built a Steam Engine' broadcast on Christmas Eve on BBC2 last year. The locomotive was officially named Tornado by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in February of this year and has since entered regular service on excursion trains on the Network Rail main line.
Approximate timings for ‘The Thames Tornado’are:
Ealing Broadway: 07:10hrs
Didcot Parkway: 08:20hrs
Bath Spa: 09:25hrs
Bristol Parkway: 09:55hrs
London Victoria: 16:30hrs
Didcot Parkway: 20:00hrs
Bath Spa: 21:05hrs
Bristol Parkway: 21:35hrs
Mark Allatt, chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, commented:
"After a busy few weeks away from London it will be good to bring Tornado back to the capital for her last few trains of 2009. Tornado is performing very well and the Trust is working hard to pay off the remaining £700,000 of the loans taken out to complete the locomotive. Please visit our website at www.a1steam.com to find out how you can help to keep this remarkable locomotive on the main line where she belongs."
Tickets for ‘The Thames Tornado’ are priced Premier Dining (adult£199; junior £179), First Class Plus (adult £139; junior £119) and Standard Class (adult £95; junior £47.50). Additionally, private 'Table for Two’ seats are available in First Class Plus and Premier Dining at a supplement of £18 per person. The at-seat meal service on this excursion will include a four course Champagne Luncheon for all Premier Dining passengers, together with a Continental Breakfast for passengers joining at stations between Ealing Broadway and Bristol Parkway, and an Evening Supper for passengers returning to stations between Reading and Gloucester. There is a £10 discount for Premier Dining passengers joining at either Ealing Broadway (no supper) or Gloucester (no breakfast).
The train is being promoted by Pathfinder Tours (Tel: 01453 835414; Web: www.pathfindertours.co.uk; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Trust respectfully requests that anyone wanting to see Tornado's main line passenger trains follows the rules of the railway and only goes where permitted.