February’s high-profile visit of Peppercorn A1 No. 60163 Tornado to the Wensleydale Railway not only brought in the crowds and saw sell-out-trains well out of the peak season, but also highlighted the still-to-be-unlocked full potential of this scenic route as a heritage line. Robin Jones reports.
It seems that the dales had never seen anything like it. The visit of £3 million new-build Peppercorn A1 No. 60163 Tornado to the Wensleydale Railway in mid-February not only underlined the proven crowd-pulling appeal of the celebrity locomotive, but also the immense potential in this beautiful heritage line that is now being unlocked.
Tornado has been undergoing extensive repairs at Wansford shed on the Nene Valley Railway that followed its failure while hauling ‘The Ebor Flyer’ from King’s Cross to York on Saturday, April 14 last year due to damaged inside motion. While at the NVR, the A1 undertook test runs and also hauled public services.
As we reported last issue, owner The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust had to cancel its ‘North Briton’ comeback trip on Saturday, February 9, after its main line test run from Peterborough to Barrow Hill indicated that there were still comparatively minor problems, as indicated by damage to a motion bush. Despite remedial action, operator DB Cargo said that it had insufficient time to complete the paperwork to facilitate the necessary test run to enable the engine to haul the ‘North Briton’.
However, that did not stop Tornado fulfilling its commitment to appear at the Wensleydale Railway on February 15-17. Once its visit was confirmed, there was an unprecedented resurgence in volunteering on the line to prepare it for its glamorous visitor. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to be part of the action. Could even Flying Scotsman have provoked a bigger reaction out of season, I wonder?
Read more and view more images in Issue 252 of HR – on sale now!