TORNADO’S ‘TON’: THE REPORT FROM THE TRAIN
A1 Steam Locomotive Trust Operations Director Graeme Bunker had laid down a detailed plan for the speeds Tornado was intended to achieve on different sections of its run. As far as York, speed was to be built up gradually to 83mph, to warm up the locomotive; the run was achieved inside ‘even time’ to York, despite a slow finish. The outward run forward to Tyne Yard was to include an emergency stop from 90mph at Longlands Junction, but this was switched when it became known that a 50mph temporary speed restriction had been imposed on all trains at Thirsk, where track re‑laying was taking place. The decision was taken for the emergency braking to start at the warning board for this restriction. The result was braking from 84½mph to zero in under a minute, to stop at Green Lane Jcn just south of Thirsk. Another ‘even time’ run was achieved, with the 21.90 miles being covered in 20 mins 42 secs to the stop. The civil engineer had imposed four 75mph limits in each direction, specifically for No. 60163. The first was at Northallerton, the next was on the Tees Viaduct. There was another 75mph limit at Darlington, but Driver Hanczar attacked the ensuing rise through Aycliffe to Bradbury (at gradients of 1‑in‑200/203, interspersed with level sections) in the 80s and, on the favourable gradient down to the Wear Valley, achieved 91mph. On the return run, the aim was to achieve the full 100mph; special dispensation had been arranged to upgrade the locomotive’s speed limit. With an ostensibly clear road ahead, Control allowed departure 7½ mins early. To pass Durham in 15 mins 15 secs, despite the 75mph restriction over Plawsworth Viaduct and achieve ‘even time’ by Hett Mill is unheard of with steam. The minimum on the 1‑in‑150 climb to Tursdale Jcn from the Wear Viaduct was a creditable 81½mph. Then, full advantage was taken of the descent past Bradbury, with a maximum of 97mph before braking for the permanent restriction to 85mph on the curves below Aycliffe. A brisk recovery was made from Darlington, but the 75mph restriction over the Wear Viaduct hindered high speed, and no sooner had No. 60163 reached 83½mph before Danby Wiske than speed had to be reduced for Northallerton. With a 50mph restriction at Thirsk to come, we were running out of options for the hoped‑for ‘ton’, but once past the North Riding’s County Town, our crew opened up to maximum effect and speed soon began to rise quickly on the very slight down gradients from Sessay (1‑in‑739) and Pilmoor (1‑in‑741). At Raskelf, the gradient changes from 1‑in‑845 to 1‑in‑666, and this is nearly always the fastest point for southbound steam. It was enough for No. 60163 to achieve the magic ‘ton’ and to maintain it for a mile on the level through Alne. Tornado was being worked extremely hard to achieve this, with up to 45% cut‑off. At Beningbrough Crossing, speed was still 95½mph. The remainder of the run to York was heavily checked, due to single‑ line working being in effect in the Skelton Junction area, and there was a signal stop opposite the Siemens depot before we drew to a stand with the locomotive at the north end of Platform 11 (80.06 miles from Newcastle) exactly on time. The continuation of the run to Doncaster (not tabulated) was naturally something of an anti‑ climax. It was decided to carry out a further emergency stop from a higher speed and this was performed at 88mph on the Selby diversion ‘new line’. Doncaster was reached in 38 mins 33 secs after a heavy signal check outside.
The A1SLT’s Mark Allatt reacts to the build-up of speed... (the BBC is producing a programme of such scenes on the 100mph run).