Tor­nado takeover: ‘A1’ sparkles on timetabled trains

Steam suc­cess­fully re­places DMUs as the Set­tle-Carlisle line pre­pares for full line re-open­ing next March

Steam Railway (UK) - - Headline News - BY TONY STREETER

The op­er­a­tion of sim­i­lar trains in fu­ture should not be ruled out

‘THANK YOU for trav­el­ling with North­ern’. Six sim­ple words that summed up what Fe­bru­ary 14-16 was all about. And travel they did - early es­ti­mates put the num­ber of peo­ple tak­ing ad­van­tage of Tor­nado on timetabled trains, pay­ing nor­mal fares, at around ten times that of those trav­el­ling on the Set­tleCarlisle DMUs. Blan­ket TV, ra­dio and news­pa­per cov­er­age - and a bliz­zard of so­cial me­dia re­sponses - her­alded the ini­tial day of trains that breathed much-needed life back into what had been a semi-mori­bund S&C. Re­ports went out live on the BBC in­clud­ing on BBC Break­fast - even be­fore the first train had run. Ex­tended by one coach to eight pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles, the ‘A1’-hauled trips of­fered around 6,000 seats across the three days - and still peo­ple were queu­ing at Skip­ton. On day one, train op­er­a­tor North­ern Rail ran a ‘relief’ DMU im­me­di­ately be­hind the 10.44am from Skip­ton so any­one who didn’t make it could reach Ap­pleby for the re­turn run. It fell to a lo­co­mo­tive that wasn’t even built five decades ago, when timetabled steam came to an end on the ‘Long Drag’, to prove it could still be done. Stabling overnight at Ap­pleby, and haul­ing a set con­sist­ing of eight Riviera Mk 2s as well as its own Mk 1 sup­port coach and DB diesel No. 67029, Tor­nado was timetabled for a se­ries of two ‘out and backs’ to Skip­ton on each of the three days. Of those, two trains were ‘ex­tras’ (but with nor­mal tick­ets valid), while the other pair were a straight re­place­ment of ex­ist­ing trains, re-timed to take ac­count of the un­usual lo­co­mo­tive and con­sist. Work­ing ten­der-first on the ini­tial 8.25am out of Ap­pleby (where there is no turntable), the Pep­per­corn en­gine was forced to ac­cept as­sis­tance from the ‘67’ be­hind the lo­co­mo­tive to keep sched­ule with its train that weighed some 375 tons with­out the diesel. But on the re­turn­ing 10.44am, now chim­ney-first and with the diesel ‘locked out’ at the rear of the train, a thun­der­ous per­for­mance from the A1 Trust’s ‘Pa­cific’ con­verted a nine-minute late de­par­ture from Skip­ton into a one-minute late ar­rival at Ap­pleby. That fol­lowed stops at Set­tle and Kirkby Stephen - and be­ing filmed by a BBC drone cross­ing Rib­ble­head Viaduct. Such was the essence of ‘Plandampf’, or timetabled steam - a con­cept the Ger­mans have made work for more than a quar­ter-cen­tury, but which re­mains such a nov­elty here it can com­mand so much me­dia cov­er­age. De­vel­oped to raise the pro­file of the S&C, which will re­main shut un­til next month due to the half-mil­lion ton land­slip at Eden Brows last win­ter, the ‘I Love S&C’ trains were a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween North­ern, Net­work Rail and DB Cargo, plus the A1 Trust, Friends of the Set­tle-Carlisle Line, and Steam Rail­way and our sis­ter ti­tle RAIL. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the two mag­a­zines first mooted the idea around two years ago. For more cov­er­age, see news fea­ture: page 64.

JACK BOSKETT

As real as it gets: The 10.44am Skip­ton-Ap­pleby lim­ited stop North­ern ser­vice train rolls into a busy Set­tle sta­tion on Fe­bru­ary 14, us­ing 2008-built trac­tion: No. 60163 Tor­nado.

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