From the start of the overhaul we have looked forward to Tornado being back in steam this summer. However, as has recently been reported, as each layer of the onion was peeled back, we have uncovered more components in need of refurbishment and have also faced significant supply chain delays. Each of these factors have extended the timescale of the work, and for those eager to see Tornado in action this autumn, it is with regret that we must now disappoint further. We share this frustration.
When managing a steam locomotive there is always a balance to be struck between operations and maintenance; self-evidently the more you run, the more upkeep is required. After running over 130,000 miles since first steaming in 2008, it was inevitable that this new build locomotive would at some stage start to exhibit signs of wear and tear. During the overhaul we have undertaken work on frames, cylinders, new tyres and various sub- ssemblies. Additionally, there has been a requirement to refurbish Tornado’s existing boiler as the first of the new boilers had been delayed due to the effects of Covid-19 on German industry. At the same time, we have also been preparing for the fitment of ETCS (European Train Control System, for in-cab signalling) funded by the East Coast Digital Programme.
As implied earlier, it is often the case when you disassemble a locomotive that you find more work than was expected. This overhaul has not been any different (additional work on the wheelsets has been the most obvious of these) and we are only just receiving the driving wheels back, with their new tyres. There have been many smaller items requiring additional attention before refitment, taking up unanticipated stretches of the engineering team’s valuable time. Similarly, the repairs to the boiler have taken longer, some of this down to customs processes and some caused by the work that needed to be completed. It is also fair to say that the work on the ETCS preparations has also taken longer than anticipated and consumed more resources than anyone expected, although this latter aspect does not affect the Trust financially. To that end the Trustees have considered the overall position and have taken the reluctant decision that Tornado will not be ready for the last four 'Aberdonian' trips, indeed there is a high level of risk associated with it meeting other potential commitments. In view of all this, the locomotive will not now return to the mainline this year in order to allow us to concentrate on completing the works required as thoroughly as possible. Whilst under overhaul Tornado is of course unable to earn money in the usual way out on the network. This makes us even more grateful for our loyal supporters.
We now look forward to a full season of operations in 2023, marking 15 years since No.60163 was completed and by happy coincidence the Centenary of the LNER. Tornado will undertake testing at the Great Central Railway in early January, having been fully fitted with ETCS equipment, before undertaking mainline tests. In February the locomotive will be at the Network Rail test centre for ETCS dynamic testing before then beginning a full year of rail tour duties. We will be announcing more details in September concerning those tours. Naturally we are hugely disappointed that we will not see the locomotive running this year, but it was always planned for it to be in the works for ETCS fitment from October to January. However, we will be in a stronger position as we head into 2023 and a memorable year for the Trust.