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Tornado’s 2020 tour diary takes shape


PEPPERCORN ‘A1’ Pacific No. 60163 Tornado looks set to have another busy year on the national network in 2020 as more dates are added to the locomotive’s main line calendar.

The first confirmed booking is the ‘Fen & Fells Flyer’ on April 4, which starts diesel-hauled in Cambridge, running via Ely, March and Peterborough, and down the East Coast Main Line (ECML) to York, where the ‘A1’ takes over.

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Tornado will then stick with the ECML as far as Darlington, before heading west through Hexham to that day’s destination at Carlisle. 

About two hours will be available to explore the city before No. 60163 starts the return leg, this time taking the southbound Settle & Carlisle line out to Skipton and on to Doncaster, where the ‘A1’ leaves the train and the diesel takes over again for the return to the Fens.

May 2’s ‘Cumbrian Explorer’ pits Tornado against the S&C again before venturing along the dramatic Cumbrian coast. 

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The tour begins at Darlington North Road, close to the locomotive’s birthplace, then continues south to Thirsk, York and Leeds and in to the S&C via Shipley and Skipton. 

No. 60163 Tornado crosses Arten Gill Viaduct on the Settle & Carlisle line with the ‘Pennine Explorer’ on October 5. The tour will run again on June 6. PETER AINSWORTH

Again a two-hour break will be taken in Carlisle, but from here, No. 60163 will take the Cumbrian Coast route – the longest coastal line in the UK – and on as far as Carnforth. Tornado will leave the train here and the return to Darlington will be diesel-hauled.

Steep climb

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A week later, on May 9, Tornado will work its first railtour from Liverpool – the ‘Yorvik Express’ – which as the name suggests takes the Pacific back to York by way of  Newton-le-Willows and Manchester Victoria. 

The outward run pits our newest main line steam locomotive against the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, the world’s first inter-city railway, including the steep climb of Miles Platting bank. 

After Romiley the train will take the picturesque Hope Valley line, then head north from Sheffield to York. The return leg will run via Wakefield and Brighouse, taking the scenic Calder Valley line through Hebden Bridge and onto Rochdale, Manchester and Liverpool.

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The ‘Pennine Explorer’ on June 6 will, in some ways, be a repeat of April’s ‘Fen & Fells Flyer’, but starts in the East Midlands rather than East Anglia. 

It will originate in Leicester, and pick up at East Midlands Parkway, Derby, and Chesterfield (where Tornado takes over from diesel traction) before reaching York.

From York the tour replicates the April outing, running to Carlisle via Darlington and back over the S&C; the ‘A1’ leaves the train on the outskirts of Chesterfield.

Into summer and July 18 sees No. 60163 head to Glasgow on the front of the ‘Caledonian’. 

The tour will be electric-hauled from Birmingham New Street to Crewe, where Tornado takes over for a sprint along the West Coast Main Line (WCML), up the infamous Grayrigg and Shap banks and on to Carlisle. 

Into Scotland the ‘A1’ will face yet another challenge as it forges its way up the long 10-mile climb to Beattock Summit, then on to Glasgow via Motherwell.

Around three hours will be available for sight-seeing before the train returns south to Birmingham, hauled by an electric locomotive throughout. 

Regular work

The ‘Caledonian’ marks the start of a season of regular work in Scotland for Tornado, primarily hauling the ‘Aberdonian’ from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and back via the Forth Bridge, Dundee and Montrose. 

The trains will run on July 23 and 30, August 13 and 20, and September 3 and 10.

Tornado will return to England on September 12’s ‘Queen of Scots’, which starts in York and runs diesel-hauled to Stirling, where No. 60163 joins the train for the southbound run. 

This will be the start of almost 250 miles of steam haulage as the ‘A1’ romps back along the ECML to York.

The title of the ‘Ticket to Ride’ excursion on September 19 provides a clue as to the day’s destination, seeing the 4-6-2 return to Liverpool for the second time during the year. 

Leaving Darlington North Road at around 08.20, the train will call at Darlington Bank Top before joining the ECML for further pick-ups at Thirsk and York. 

The final pick-up will be made at Wakefield Kirkgate, after which the ‘A1’ will proceed via Hebden Bridge and Copy Pit to Blackburn, then join the WCML south of Preston for a fast run to Wigan. 

Tornado then heads west to St Helens and on to Liverpool Lime Street. 

The return is again via the Liverpool & Manchester, then the Calder Valley line to Hebden Bridge and back over the morning’s route to Darlington.

For more information on bookings visit the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust website at:

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