Watching history being made – from the inside!

I felt deeply honoured to have been invited to join a small group of guests aboard the train that was to prove to the world whether A1 Peppercorn Pacific No. 60163 Tornado is capable at regular running at 90mph. And it was with great trepidation that I drove to Doncaster station on the late evening of April 11 to jump aboard.

The footplate crew for the 101mph run stand alongside Tornado at York, its next stop. They were owner’s representative Graeme Bunker, traction inspector Jim Smith, driver Steve Hanczar and fireman Dave Proctor. ROBIN JONES

Over the years I have written about the legendary steam record exploits of City of Truro, Flying Scotsman and Mallard so many times that I can recite the stories in fine detail. And yet, here was I about to savour such a moment first hand.

Of course, I had no doubt that Tornado could do 90mph, for it did so – twice – on its main line tests back in 2008.

Speaking at a public session on Saturday, October 26, 2013, the first day of the National Railway Museum’s Mallard 75 Autumn Great Gathering of all six surviving A4 Pacifics, former driver Dave Court publicly admitted that he took No. 60163 to 90mph twice on its third test run, over the East Coast Main Line between Newcastle and York on November 18, 2008, without its owner, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust’s prior knowledge.

Neither had prior dispensation been obtained by DB Schenker, the body solely responsible for the test runs, for the A1 to run above the maximum permitted speed of 75mph.

“The design speed is 90mph and I took it up to 90mph with 14 coaches on,” Dave Court told an audience of around 150 at the museum, “I got suspended on the last run for speeding.”

In issue 221, we reported not only the trust’s plans for a 90mph test run for Tornado this spring, but also its intention for a state-of-the-art charter train to regularly run behind it, comprising locomotive hauled Mk.3 carriages currently in use in East Anglia that will be extensively refurbished and overhauled.

Read more in Issue 228 of HR – on sale now!


Enjoy more Heritage Railway reading in the four-weekly magazine. Click here to subscribe.