TOR­NADO joins ‘ton up’ club - BUT IT’S ALL FOR 90

April 12 2017 - preser­va­tion’s July 3 - was a sig­nif­i­cant step to­wards reg­u­lar high-speed steam.

Steam Railway (UK) - - News - A1SLT/NICK BRO­DRICK

One hun­dred miles per hour. The ‘ton’. The big one… of­fi­cially reached for the first time since 1967 in the early hours of April 12. While Bri­tain slept, preser­va­tion his­tory was made; some­thing sel­dom achieved even in steam days re­turned just for a mo­ment. Spec­tac­u­lar as the 100mph head­line is, this was ac­tu­ally about some­thing more se­ri­ous. For rather than be­ing a sell-out, very special tour, it was a test trip, run as a key part of demon­strat­ing that Tor­nado can run not at 100mph per se, but ro­bustly at 90mph. Yet in the pur­suit of the ‘10% over-speed’ to demon­strate that, the new-build ‘Pacific’ was per­mit­ted to run up to the sym­bolic ‘three fig­ures’ - and so it did. It was a ‘hush-hush’ af­fair, car­ried out while the rail­way was at its qui­etest. As a re­sult, in­stead of be­ing greeted to a hero’s wel­come as it re­turned to a dark­ened Don­caster fol­low­ing its south­bound run over the rac­ing track from New­cas­tle, the ‘A1’ was met by vir­tu­ally de­serted plat­forms. Prob­a­bly no steam lo­co­mo­tive has ever been so closely mea­sured and an­a­lysed us­ing quite such so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy; an elec­tronic dis­play on the run­ning board trans­mit­ted the tem­per­a­ture of the inside ‘big end’ through the dark­ness, and like an ath­lete on a run­ning machine, No. 60163 was wired up - with ac­celerom­e­ters, and with a Dop­pler radar to mea­sure speed. The new-build ‘Pacific’ was hung about with mini cam­eras too - though they were there for the BBC, which was out to film the mo­men­tous event.


That there was a se­ri­ous pur­pose to the run was ob­vi­ous. That there was a sense of an­tic­i­pa­tion among those who were there was also clear. The the­ory was known, but how would this new steam lo­co­mo­tive less than a decade old - ac­tu­ally behave in practice? Fu­elled by cof­fee, people from the A1 Trust, from train op­er­a­tor DB Cargo, from else­where in the rail­way fam­ily and from the press were aboard and wait­ing to find out. An­swers came grad­u­ally. Like that ath­lete, the ‘A1’ was warmed up slowly. North from Don­caster, the en­gine ran in the 80s and up to 90mph; it was only af­ter the en­tire train of Tor­nado, nine coaches and a Class 67 were turned us­ing the tri­an­gle along­side New­cas­tle’s King Ed­ward Bridge, ready to set off for the re­turn 80 miles, that the real high points came; high speed was aided too by the de­ci­sion to take the ‘67’ off the train and in­stead have it ‘shadow’ the re­turn run, drop­ping the weight the ‘Pacific’ had to heft from 405 to 315 tons. What fol­lowed was progress up into the mid-90s be­fore the speed was brought down for sig­nals then re­stric­tions, then even higher af­ter that on the 18-mile sec­tion south of Ses­say. The sym­bolic mo­ment, when the GPS recorders aboard a train iden­ti­fied only by its re­port­ing num­ber ‘596S’ flicked from 99mph to 100, came around Raskelf; the banks of GPS de­vices on board the train, in­clud­ing on the ‘A1’ it­self, showed at least the ‘ton’. As for the nee­dle on the en­gine’s own Smiths speedome­ter - that was up against the stop.

sus­TAINeD per­FOr­MANCe

Nei­ther was this just a fleet­ing, mo­men­tary af­fair; on board, eyes were fixed on the

read­ings as they con­tin­ued to hover around the 100mph mark be­fore the speed dropped away. Was there per­haps a nod of ap­proval from the rest­ing shapes of Mal­lard and Duchess of Hamilton at York, as a more re­cently built ‘Pacific’ slipped past all-but un­no­ticed in the dark­ness? Ei­ther way, it was the smiles later at Don­caster that re­ally told the story. The events of April 12 do not mean the ‘A1’ is yet passed for 90mph pas­sen­ger op­er­a­tion: that is hoped to follow in the next stage, once the data from the run is an­a­lysed. Nev­er­the­less, it rep­re­sents a key step on the road for what has long been an am­bi­tion for the A1 Trust. It is also the re­ward for months of plan­ning across the rail­way, with or­gan­i­sa­tions in­volved in­clud­ing not only Tor­nado’s owner and its train op­er­a­tor DB Cargo but also, in par­tic­u­lar, Net­work Rail and the Rail Safety and Stan­dards Board. Long-serv­ing chair­man of the A1 Trust Mark Al­latt, who re­cently stepped down but who re­mains a trustee (SR464), said the night was the “cul­mi­na­tion of the project that we launched in 1990.” “We said we were go­ing to build a Pep­per­corn Class ‘A1’, we said we were go­ing to run her on the main line and on pre­served lines, and we said we were go­ing to run her at express pas­sen­ger speeds - and that was 90 - and we’ve done it. And in fact we’ve gone a bit faster than that!” “I’m grin­ning from ear to ear… it’s fan­tas­tic. It’s just nice to do yet an­other first with Tor­nado; we’re just go­ing to have to keep think­ing about what we do next.” The ‘big end’ sen­sor mount­ing tube, based on the orig­i­nal ‘stink bomb’ as­sem­bly car­ried by three-cylin­der LNER lo­co­mo­tives, plug con­tain­ing the elec­tron­ics as­sem­bly and mo­bile hand­set run­ning the re­ceiver ap­pli­ca­tion. The mid­dle ‘big end’ tem­per­a­ture sen­sor was cus­tom-de­signed and built by Rob Mor­land and David Elliott of the A1 Steam Lo­co­mo­tive Trust, work­ing with Steve Sims of spe­cial­ist Cam­bridge sen­sor com­pany Zi­conix. The whole as­sem­bly is de­signed to cope with the chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment of the mid­dle ‘big end’, which ro­tates at 400rpm when the lo­co­mo­tive reaches 100mph, gen­er­at­ing a cen­trifu­gal force of 67g... In­set: And this is the tem­per­a­ture dis­play, run­ning on a mo­bile phone, mounted on the run­ning board.

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