Tornado, the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain for almost 50 years, will be storming up the South Devon Banks for the first time with ‘The Tamar Tornado’ excursion from Birmingham to Plymouth on Saturday 8 August 2009. Over the past few years there have been a few steam hauled trains over the fearsome South Devon Banks, featuring a variety of locomotive designs, however, this will be the first opportunity to see how new 60163 Tornado will cope.
Tornado 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.
The train, mainly formed of classic 1960s carriages, will run diesel hauled from Birmingham International (06:45hrs), picking up passengers at Birmingham New Street (07:05hrs), Barnt Green (07:30hrs), Cheltenham Spa (08:15hrs) and Bristol Parkway (09:00hrs) before arriving at Brunel’s magnificent Bristol Temple Meads station where Tornado will be waiting to take over. Departing at 09:45hrs, we can then expect a lively run to Taunton for a brief water stop(10:45-11:15hrs), where Tornado will start the climb to Whiteball Tunnel, just a foretaste of the ‘house roof’ gradients to follow.
An easy ramble through Exeter (11:50hrs) and along the magnificent sea wall to Newton Abbot (12:15hrs) is followed by the testing ascents of both Dainton and Rattery Banks, before passengers can enjoy a break of around three hours in the famous maritime city of Plymouth from 13:00hrs.
Upon departure from Plymouth at 16:30hrs, Tornado will almost straight away be faced with the stiff climbs of both Hemerdon and Dainton Banks, before a return journey through Newton Abbot (17:15hrs) and along the sea wall, and a stop at Exeter St. David’s station for water (17:40-18:10hrs). Finally, it is hoped that a fast run, via Taunton (18:45hrs), to Bristol Temple Meads station (19:45hrs), can be achieved, before Tornado retires to shed. ‘The Tamar Tornado’ will then complete the run back to the West Midlands using diesel traction calling at Bristol Parkway (20:30hrs), Cheltenham Spa (21:15hrs), Barnt Green (22:00hrs) and Birmingham New Street (22:30hrs) before reaching Birmingham International at 22:50hrs.
Mark Allatt, chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, said:
“All of us at the Trust enjoy a challenge and so we are looking forward to seeing how Tornado performs on this famously tough route. We hope that railway enthusiasts and members of the public who have followed Tornado’s progress in the press, and more recently on ‘Top Gear’ with Jeremy Clarkson, will take this opportunity to come and ride behind her.”
Tickets for ‘The Tamar Tornado’ are priced First Class (adult £135; junior £115) and Standard Class (adult £98; junior £49). Additionally, a small number of table for two seats in First Class are available at a supplement of £20 per person. The train is being promoted by Pathfinder Tours (Tel: 01453 835414; Web: www.pathfindertours.co.uk; Email: email@example.com).
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.