60163 Tornado

LNER Class A1 Peppercorn 60163 Tornado
Tornado, 14 December 2008
Power typeSteam
DesignerArthur Peppercorn (original designer)
BuilderA1 Steam Locomotive Trust
Build date1994–2008
Leading wheel size3 ft 2 in (0.97 m)
Driver size6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Trailing wheel size3 ft 8 in (1.12 m)
Length72 ft 11.75 in (22.24 m)
Width9 ft 2.875 in (2.82 m)
Height13 ft (3.96 m)
Axle load22.1 long tons (22.5 t)
Weight on drivers66.55 long tons (67.62 t)
Locomotive weight105.2 long tons (106.9 t)
Tender weight60.9 long tons (61.9 t)
Locomotive and tender combined weight166.1 long tons (168.8 t)
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacity7.5 long tons (7.6 t))
Water capacity6,000 imp gal (27,000 L))
BoilerDiagram 118
6 ft 5 in (2.0 m) diameter
29 ft 2 in (8.9 m) length
Boiler pressure250 psi (1,700 kPa)
Fire grate area50 square feet (4.65 m2)
Heating surface: Tubes1,211.6 square feet (112.56 m2)
Heating surface: Flues1,004.5 square feet (93.32 m2)
Heating surface: Firebox245.3 square feet (22.79 m2)
Superheater area697.7 square feet (64.82 m2)
Cylinder size19 in × 26 in (480 mm × 660 mm)
Top speed100 mph (160 km/h) design
75 mph (121 km/h) certified
Tractive effort2,700 metric horsepower (2,000 kW)
Number60163 (display)
98863 (TOPS)
Official nameTornado
Axle load classRoute availability 9
First run29 July 2008
DispositionOperational. Approved for 75 mph (121 km/h) running on the Network Rail main line.

LNER Peppercorn Class A1 60163 Tornado

60163 Tornado is a main-line steam locomotive built in Darlington, England, the first such locomotive built in the United Kingdom since Evening Star, the last steam locomotive built by British Rail, in 1960. Designed to meet modern safety and certification standards, Tornado runs on the UK rail network and on mainline-connected heritage railways. The locomotive is named after the Panavia Tornado military jet.

The locomotive was built by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, a charitable trust founded in 1990 to build Tornado and possibly further locomotives. Tornado was conceived as an evolution of the LNER Peppercorn Class A1 class, incorporating improvements likely had steam continued, and changes for cost, safety, manufacturing and operational benefits, while replicating the original design's sound and appearance. Tornado, completely new-built, is considered the 50th Peppercorn A1, numbered next in the class after 60162, Saint Johnstoun, built in 1949.

The 49 original Peppercorn A1s were built in Doncaster and Darlington for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). Tornado was built in the trust's Darlington works. The original 49 locomotives were scrapped by 1966 after an average service of 15 years. None survived into preservation, and Tornado fills a gap in the classes of restored steam locomotives that used to operate on the East Coast Main Line.

LNER Peppercorn A1 60155 Borderer at Gateshead sheds, Tyne and Wear, April 1964. Disposed of in October 1965

Tornado moved under her own power for the first time on 29 July 2008 at Darlington, and then spent two months at the preserved Great Central Railway double-track tourist railway in Loughborough, where she was tested up to 60 mph (97 km/h) and operated her first passenger train. Tornado then moved to the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York for three test runs on the main line up to 75 mph (121 km/h). After repainting into LNER Apple Green, Tornado was approved for main-line passenger operation. On 31 January 2009 she hauled her first passenger trip on the main line, The Peppercorn Pioneer, from York to Newcastle and back. By hauling various A1 Trust railtours, charters and other activities, Tornado will begin to recoup the estimated £800,000 debt from the project, which cost around £3 million.

With a shorter rake of 11 coaches compared with the original Peppercorn A1's usage, Tornado is expected to achieve contemporary mainline speeds. Theoretically capable of 100 mph (160 km/h), Tornado will be limited to 90 mph (140 km/h), making her the fastest steam locomotive on the UK main line. Once on the main line, Tornado is not expected to leave it again until 10-year fire-tube boiler re-certification in late 2018.

On 21 June 2009, Tornado featured in the Top Gear Race to the North, coming second to a car in a three-way race from London to Edinburgh, against a 1949 Jaguar XK120 sports car and a 1949 Vincent Black Shadow motorbike.


The original Peppercorn A1 series was ordered by the LNER, but the 49 locomotives were built at Doncaster and Darlington for British Railways (BR) in 1948–49, after the nationalisation of the railways in the United Kingdom. Following the modernisation and dieselisation plans of the 1950s, the A1 Peppercorn class was eventually scrapped at a comparatively early age of just 14 years.

Other famous East Coast Mainline steam locomotives have been preserved, for example several Gresley LNER Class A4 and one LNER Class A3, 4472 Flying Scotsman, but all 49 LNER Peppercorn Class A1 locomotives were scrapped. The last was 60145 St Mungo, which survived until September 1966.

The Peppercorn A1s were designed to cope with the heaviest regular post-war East Coast trains. These were frequently 15 coaches or 550 tons. The locomotives were capable of 60-70 mph (95-110 kmh) on level track. Tornado will be able to haul 10-11 coach trains at higher speeds, to fit modern faster main lines.

The A1 Trust intended Tornado to be built from scratch, designed and built as the next locomotive in the A1 Peppercorn class, not as a replica or restoration project, but an evolution of the class incorporating design improvements that would have occurred had steam motive power continued on the mainline railway.

Name, number and liveries

The name Tornado was chosen in honour of the Royal Air Force Tornado air crews flying at the time in the Gulf War. The honour of choosing the name was given to a £50,000 sponsor of the project. In 1995, officers of the Royal Air Force presented the Tornado nameplates to the trust at Tyseley Locomotive Works at the frame laying ceremony in January.

Tornado nameplate at York station in May 2009 showing the badge of RAF Leeming in Yorkshire, where RAF Tornado F3s were based until the previous month Running number and plaque, 'No. 2195 Darlington 2008'

Tornado is numbered 60163, as the 50th Peppercorn A1. Tornado's smokebox door also carries the identification plate "51 A", the code for Darlington shed. The cab side carries the builders plate, "No. 2195 Darlington 2008". The front buffer beam carries the designation "A1", applied in the paint detailing phase for launch in Apple Green.

On 7 August 2008, Tornado was entered onto the Total Operations Processing System (TOPS) system. Although the painted number is 60163, on the British mainline Tornado is designated 98863 in TOPS, where 98 describes a steam engine, the 8 stems from the power classification of 8P, and 63 come from her 60163 number.

Tornado was in grey undercoat until final testing was completed, as a precaution against the need to remove the boiler cladding. The livery was described as "works grey” in a ”satin finish”. While in this undercoat, Tornado wore the web address of the A1 Trust on the side of the tender, and the mark RA9 (denoting route availability) on the locomotive cab. On her third main line test run to Newcastle, the web address was replaced with the National Express logo.

The first full livery is LNER-style express passenger apple green, with 'British Railways' on the tender, as worn by the original locomotives in 1948. The first 30 Peppercorn A1s delivered wore this colour This was applied by the NRM paint shop after completion of mainline trials at the NRM in York. Painting was behind closed doors, with the finished article unveiled (without nameplates) on 13 December 2008, in front of 500 supporters of the A1 Trust. The green livery was applied in the traditional way, brush painted by hand. Tornado was unveiled on the turntable with the NRM North Eastern Railway (NER) dynamometer car. Due to time constraints, the locomotive detailing had been completed only on one side of the locomotive at the launch, and Tornado re-entered the paintshop after the launch before going back on display.

The former ex-works grey livery with Trust web-address on the tender Current British Railways Apple Green livery 'British Railways' tender markings

Prior to Tornado, LNER Thompson Class B1 1306 Mayflower and LNER Class D49 46 Morayshire were the only two operational steam locomotives in Britain wearing LNER green. LNER Class V2 4771 Green Arrow was withdrawn from mainline operations on 26 April 2008. LNER green was also the last livery worn by LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman prior to withdrawal in December 2005.

Over the life of her first ten-year boiler certificate, it is expected Tornado will also wear BR Blue, BR Brunswick Green (pre-1957) and Brunswick Green post-1957.

Although the name Tornado was chosen and nameplates manufactured long before the locomotive was completed, during commissioning and test running the nameplates were not attached. By railway convention, the locomotive is officially known by her number until the name plates are affixed.

Tornado was named by HRH The Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall and Dorothy Mather (widow of designer Arthur Peppercorn), at York railway station on 19 February 2009. The ceremony is marked by a plaque located below the nameplate. Tornado then pulled the Royal Train to Leeds.

In The Media

A BBC film crew filmed the project at certain points on the journey, up to and including arrival and operation of Tornado running at the GCR. The resulting film was used to make a 30 minute documentary film, Absolutely Chuffed: The Men Who Built a Steam Engine. It was first broadcast on BBC Four on 16 October 2008, as part of their Golden Age of Steam season.

Tornado and the Tornado project was also partly featured in the BBC Four documentary episode The Last Days of Steam (series 8 of the Time Shift documentaries), and also on How Do They Do It? (channel Five version, season 3 episode 3). The project also featured on BBC 2's magazine programme Working Lunch broadcast on 3 December 2007.

Top Gear Race to the North

Tornado on the Top Gear Race to the North

On 25 April 2009, Tornado hauled a 10 coach Cathedrals Express charter from London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley. This private train was filmed by the BBC for a Top Gear Race, in which Jeremy Clarkson on the train raced James May in a Jaguar XK120 and Richard Hammond on a Vincent Black Shadow motorbike. Tornado was booked to complete the 390.2 mile journey in 8 hours 2 minutes, without any passenger stops in stations, but with four water stops en route at Grantham, York, Tyne Yard and Berwick, totalling 95 minutes booked stoppage time. May and Hammond were restricted to using A-roads. The train was formed from the maroon support coach and a uniform rake of nine Royal Scot blood and custard coaches. The race featured in the first episode of the shows 13th series, airing on 21 June 2009.