Whilst undertaking test runs in connection with raising its permitted maximum speed, new Peppercorn class A1 steam locomotive No. 60163 Tornado has reached 100mph during trials conducted on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) between Doncaster and Newcastle.

Photo Credits: Tornado at 100 by Graeme Bunker-James &  60163 Tornado at Hasland by Alan Weaver

Completed in 2008, Tornado is currently limited to 75mph, but it has always been the intention to run the locomotive at speeds up to 90mph to better fit in with other trains on the busy UK rail network. In connection with testing for future 90mph operations the locomotive was rigged with diagnostic measurement equipment and operated up to 100mph during controlled testing in the early hours of Wednesday 12th April 2017. In common with other rail vehicles Tornado had to operate at 10% above its planned maximum speed to demonstrate a sufficient margin of safety. The tests were observed and monitored by various rail industry engineers and certification bodies.

The operations were planned by The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (registered charity and builders, owners and operators of No. 60163 Tornado) in partnership with DB Cargo Rail and Network Rail. Valuable assistance and support was also received from Ricardo Rail, Resonate Ltd, DATS, Electromotive, Cass Heywood and Riviera Trains.

Graeme Bunker-James, Operations Director for The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, said:

“We are delighted to have completed the test runs that move us one step closer to 90mph operations with Tornado. This will allow us to ensure that the locomotive continues to haul trains on the busiest parts of the UK network allowing as many people as possible to enjoy travelling with Tornado. As part of these tests the locomotive operated at 90mph for a sustained period and also achieved 100mph under these special conditions and running with clear signals. I would like to thank all of our industry partners for their support in making these trials a success. We now have to analyse the results from the tests and then complete the necessary certification processes before the first 90mph public operations can be undertaken. We hope to conclude this before the end of 2017.’’

The Trust respectfully requests that anyone wanting to see Tornado follows the rules of the railway and only goes where permitted.

Tornado’s packed main line diary for 2017 includes:

  • Saturday 29th April – ‘The North Briton’ – Leicester to Carlisle – A1SLT promoted tour – bookings through UK Railtours
  • Monday 1st May – ‘The Heart of Midlothian’ – Peterborough to Edinburgh – A1SLT promoted tour – bookings through UK Railtours
  • Saturday 6th May – ‘The Talisman’ – London King’s Cross to Darlington – A1SLT promoted tour – bookings through UK Railtours
  • Monday 29th May – ‘The Cornishman’ – London Paddington – Penzance – A1SLT promoted tour – bookings through UK Railtours
  • Monday 28th May – ‘The Easterling’ – London Kings Cross – Great Yarmouth – A1SLT promoted tour – bookings through UK Railtours
  • Saturday 16th September – ‘The Border Raider’ – West Midlands – Carlisle – A1SLT promoted tour – bookings through UK Railtours
  • Saturday 7th October – ‘The Tees-Tyne Express’ – Midlands – York, Durham and Newcastle – A1SLT promoted tour – bookings through UK Railtours

Additional Notes:

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, a registered charity, built Peppercorn class A1 Pacific No. 60163 Tornado, named after the RAF aircraft, at its Darlington Locomotive Works. Fitted with additional water capacity and the latest railway safety electronics, Tornado is fully equipped for today’s main line railway. The A1 class was designed by Arthur H Peppercorn for the London & North Eastern Railway and 49 were built in 1948/49 by British Railways. However, following dieselisation, all were scrapped by 1966.

After 18 years of construction and fundraising the £3 million locomotive was completed in August 2008. Tornado was named by HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall at York station on 19th February 2009. Frequently headlined in the press and on TV and radio, Tornado was the subject of a BBC documentary ‘Absolutely Chuffed: The Men Who Built a Steam Engine’ and featured in ‘The Race to the North’ on Top Gear. The Trust is still seeking to raise £200,000 through The 163 Pacifics Club to purchase the tender currently leased from principal sponsor William Cook Cast Products Limited.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust is now constructing Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive – Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales. For more details, email or call 01325 460163.

For details of how to help or where to travel behind Tornado visit  or email

Plandampf – from German meaning Planned Steam. Tornado took to the rails on February 14th, 15th and 16th, pulling regular timetabled services (usually diesel hauled) over part of the Settle and Carlisle Railway (S&C), on what were the first steam hauled service trains in England since the 1960s. Tickets were charged at standard prices, just £17 for a day return between Appleby and Skipton, with all travel passes and discounts honoured. In three days around 6,000 people travelled on these trains, all 12 of which were sold out. The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust joined with Northern Rail and Friends of the Settle and Carlisle Railway to stage this even ahead of the reopening of the Appleby to Carlisle stretch of the S&C on 31st March 2017, following a landslide in February 2016. For more information see