Tornado comes to grief on ‘Ebor Flyer’

By John Heaton FCILT and Gary Boyd-Hope

THE bold attempt to run at up to 90mph from King’s Cross to York on April 14 with No. 60163 Tornado suffered an expensive and disruptive fate after its middle cylinder piston valve failed at Biggleswade.

The ‘A1’ took its 12-coach train up to Potters Bar on the slow line at a shade over 55mph and was subsequently checked to 49mph just before Stevenage, which was passed at 66mph. There were also some bridge restrictions of 60mph in force, one of which had been negotiated at Knebworth.

‘A1’ No. 60163 Tornado passes Biggleswade on April 14 at a speed of 81mph. Less than three minutes after this picture was taken, Tornado had undertaken an emergency stop. ALISDAIR ANDERSON

The 1-in-200 stretch down through Hitchin, easing to 1-in-400 before Arlesey, was the normal high-speed section for Down trains in steam traction’s heyday, but train timers on board wondered whether the Stevenage check might cost them the newly permitted maximum speed.

David Ashley, of the Railway Performance Society, was covering the special on behalf of The Railway Magazine, recording a strong acceleration to reach 90mph just after Arlesey, his maximum GPS figure showing 90.4mph. See table (right).

Unfortunately, this was the end of the day’s festivities as a sharp brake application was made just before Biggleswade and the train was halted just south of Sandy. After a long delay GBRf Class 66 No. 66744 Crossrail took the whole train to Peterborough, where Tornado retired to the Nene Valley Railway for assessment.

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