With Full Regulator: LOCOMOTIVE PERFORMANCE THEN AND NOW

By Don Benn

This time I am covering ‘The Ebor Flyer’ which ran on April 14 after many months’ planning. This was to be the first official 90mph public run with LNER A1 Pacific No. 60163 Tornado following its successful high speed test in April 2017, almost exactly a year earlier.

Then it ran up to 91mph after Tursdale, north of Darlington on its northbound run with a load of 405 tons which included nine coaches and a non-working class 67 diesel. On the return run 100mph was reached near Alne between Darlington and York

As this test was successful, the A1 Trust with its operating partners set about planning a trip where 90mph could be used in pathing plus of course the capability of Tornado to run for longer stretches between stops for water than most other main line-certified engines due to its 5,000 gallon capacity tender.

LNER A1 Pacific No. 60163 Tornado accelerates away from a pathing stop over Digswell viaduct with ‘The Ebor Flyer’ on April 14. ANDREW PLUMMER

This fitted with the objectives of keeping trains hauled by Tornado on ever busier main lines without excessively long end to end journey times. In 2009, King’s Cross to York had been possible in two minutes over four hours within the 75mph limit but there really wasn’t anything to spare as the train running in Table Four shows.

I had booked on ‘The Ebor Flyer’ as far back as September last year and so I eagerly awaited the details of times for the trip. These were very late coming but when they appeared I was astonished to see that the train was only given three hours 18 minutes to York and three hours 40 minutes on its return.

Clearly there was going to be some very fast start to stop sections and although nothing appeared on Real Time Trains until just before the departure date I was able to work out from the 11.25am arrival in York that the water stop would be at Grantham and that we would follow the 9am King’s Cross to Edinburgh from there but precede the 9.08 to York. This would give a time of about 70 minutes for the 83 miles, compared to 73 minutes in 2009.

When the official times were released it was clear that some very hard work had gone into the scheduling as we had been fitted very cleverly between the flights of fast trains. Graham Bunker of the A1 Trust told me that it was not all plain sailing but that they had got the timings they wanted.

After calling at Potters Bar we were to wait at Digswell for the 8.30am to Edinburgh and 8.33 to Leeds to pass and then run fast line all the way to the Grantham water stop arriving at 10.01, just four minutes in front of the 9am King’s Cross to Edinburgh, a planned start to stop average of over 71 mph.

From there, as I had predicted we would then run fast to York following the Edinburgh train and the 9.03 King’s Cross to Leeds in 70 minutes for the 83 miles, also at 71mph start to stop. In the return direction ‘The Ebor Flyer’ was planned to run non-stop over the 112 miles from York to Peterborough in 102 minutes and then after Tornado had taken water, another even time section to Potters Bar running fast line to Digswell.

Read more in Issue 241 of HR – on sale now!

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