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Full Steam Ahead for Tornado

Full Steam Ahead for Tornado

The Brits love their nostalgia. In particular, they love steam trains. They have such an affinity with old steam locos that on any given weekend you can choose from up to 50 volunteer-run steam railways across the nation.

One of my most exciting experiences while visiting in Yorkshire was to see the 60163 Tornado in final stages of construction.

Funded and by a Trust made up of volunteers and supportive philanthropists, the project saw the birth of a class of train that had never before graced the railway lines of Britain. The Peppercorn Class Tornado, unlike the Flying Scotsman, never went into service as it was designed around the time diesel class trains were taking over.

The Darlington group, which started in 1990, raised millions of pounds to make their dream come true. And as the build of the steam engine was a "new" build rather than a restoration, they were able to introduce modern-world safety features like bigger, better brakes, better lights and larger water carrying capacity etc.

This meant that the train meets safety standards for running on the mainlines of the UK and sets her free of the limitations of preserved lines. No other steam train gets permitted to run on the main lines without a special permit. It also means the train can be wound up to its top speed, which is more than 100mph (160kmh).

This makes her faster than The Flying Scotsman and our Australian steam equivalent, 3801. Her mainline trips attract many thousands of trainspotters and has revitalised the entire steam enthusiasts culture.

The Darlington group has plans to develp, build and operate an improved Gresley class P2 Mikado steam loco.

There is no substitute for a the romance of steam.

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