The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust today announced an existing new partnership with the UK Government to develop a new type of steam locomotive to provide a real alternative to diesel traction on the World's railways.
Electrification schemes are moving forward a pace but are expensive and efficiency levels are difficult to improve over large distances. Leading British engineers are adapting a miniaturised nuclear reactor, similar to that fitted in Royal Navy vessels but much smaller in size, which will be fitted into the tender of Tornado during its upcoming Intermediate overhaul commencing in October 2014. Initial test steaming should commence on 1st April 2015 with test running to follow on.
The technology works on using the nuclear reactor to create the steam to power Tornado. The boiler can then be modified to be of larger steam capacity, it now acting as a steam reservoir and operating up to 1000psi giving huge power increases. It is forecast that Tornado will become the most powerful locomotive in the UK with a forecast power out perhaps three times that currently available. Modifications to enable the frames and cylinders and other systems to cope with this increased power are already underway. On train heating and so forth will also be powered from the locomotive, it being considered that a nuclear locomotive will have power to support many systems like microwaves in kitchen cars and other modern appliances.
Tornado will revert to grey during the testing period - Dave Cooper
Externally there will be little different for the passenger or photographer to notice but there won't be any smoke just clean white steam. This shows the environmental benefits of the technology for a fleet application.
Once testing is completed, and subject to satisfactory outcomes, new P2 Prince of Wales will incorporate the technology to ensure steam is sustainable and can be expanded into a production run.