90mph running for steam:the real challenges

The article by John Forman in issue 226 takes an unfortunate and dismissive tone, and contains a number of factual inaccuracies that could leave your readers with an incorrect impression of how main line steam operates.

LNER A1 Pacific No. 60163 Tornado passes Copmanthorpe with the ‘Silver Jubilee Talisman’, which ran from King’s Cross to Newcastle on September 26, 2015. Builder and owner The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust has said it aims to carry out test running at 90mph in the spring. AISLT

The following will, I hope, provide some clarification on some of those points.

The first area where the author has not done his research is around the fact that Network Rail limits speeds to 75mph, and is also responsible for other things he views negatively, such as the public performance measure (PPM). This is to totally misunderstand the modern industry. The limit is in a Railway Standard (RIS3440), adopted by operators and infrastructure owner alike. The PPM is a Government requirement. So portraying Network Rail as a big bad block on higher speeds and responsible for other matters the author disagrees with is factually wrong.

If you want to run faster, you need the whole industry to agree, regulators and other operators included. This is further reinforced by the fact that Network Rail was critical to the success of the 2013 runs with No. 4464 Bittern and will, in due course, be critical in the operation of Tornado above 75mph.

Read more of this and other letters in Issue 227 of HR – on sale now!

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