‘Lubrication not speed’ caused 90mph Tornado’s failure

AN examination of Peppercorn A1 Pacific No. 60163 Tornado following its April 14 failure minutes after hitting 90mph on the East Coast Main Line, indicated that the problem was caused by a lack of lubrication rather than speed.

The locomotive was heading The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust’s ‘The Ebor Flyer’ from King’s Cross to York – its first public 90mph trip – and had hit 91mph at East Road level crossing north of Arlesley. It held 90mph for a mile through Biggleswade, before the train ground to a halt at Sandy, 43 miles out of London.

At first it was thought that Tornado had struck a large object on the track, but it was soon realised that the problem was mechanical.

Stricken Tornado is examined at Wansford shed on April 15. BEN SCOTT/A1SLT

Trust officials summoned assistance and Tornado and its train were hauled at around 20mph to Peterborough by
GB Railfreight Class 66 No. 66744 Crossrail. The A1 was immediately taken to the nearby Nene Valley Railway and on to the heritage line’s Wansford shed.

Because of the breakdown, the trip had taken 4 ½ hours to get from London to Peterborough, where as the consist pulled into the platform, passengers glimpsed GWR 0-6-2T No. 5619 steaming well in the NVR’s Peterborough station below the ECML.

Some passengers took the option of alighting at Peterborough and were given free travel back to London by Virgin Trains, while the sell-out ‘The Ebor Flyer’ then continued its journey to York.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch and the Office of Road & Rail were notified of the breakdown, and the trust apologised not only to ‘Ebor Flyer’ passengers but to those on normal ECML service trains.

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