In association with Pathfinder Tours we find ourselves providing motive power for yet another train this week! Due to the unavailability of No. 70000 Britannia, Tornado has stepped into the breach to cover her absence on the 'Tamar Devonian', double-heading over the Devon banks to Plymouth with Duke of Gloucester. This is the first time British Railways designed and built No. 71000 Duke of Gloucester and Tornado have worked in tandem over the national rail network. An historic occasion indeed providing Class 16 super-power on this hilly route!
This run will be the culmination of an epic week for Tornado, having completed 510 miles with the Royal Train last Monday, 'The Elizabethan' on Wednesday and a Northampton to Winchester and return 'Cathedrals Express' on Thursday. By Saturday evening No. 60163 will have covered over 1500 miles on Network Rail which is incredibly impressive for the preservation era but a routine weekly mileage for an A1 in traffic in the 1950's and 60's! Full marks to the very hard-working support crew and on train staff who have already worked some exceedingly anti-social hours this week.
Starting with diesel haulage from stations to Bristol, where the two engines will be ready to take over for the initial run across the Somerset Levels to Taunton and a water / photographic stop. Then it’s into the Blackdown Hills and over Whiteball Summit to Exeter and a run along the famous South Devon sea wall, with its fabulous views, before skirting the undulating flank of Dartmoor, with the steep climb of Dainton and Rattery Banks, culminating in the final run down into Plymouth.
Passengers will have around four enjoyable hours in Plymouth. This historic city and port has a wide range of attractions, eateries and shops, including the famous Hoe and the Barbican marina and maritime quarter. The Classic Boat Rally and Jazz Festival will be in full swing this day at the barbican. Alternatively, Pathfinder Tours has organised a Plymouth Barbican and Tamar River cruise.
In the late afternoon the special train departs Plymouth, giving a second chance for passengers to enjoy the great scenery and hear these two popular steam engines hard at work on the undulating route through Devon and Somerset back to Bristol, with the diesel locomotive returning the train to joining stations.