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Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 12:00 GMT
Engine 'set for UK mainline test'
'Tornado' nearing completion
Tornado is ready to come out of the sidings and onto the tracks
The first steam engine built to run on the UK mainline in almost 50 years will be ready for tests in April, says one of the main organisers.

Tornado has been assembled by steam enthusiasts in Darlington in an 18-year project costing 3m.

It is based on the Peppercorn A1 locomotive, which British Railways withdrew from service in the 1960s.

It will be tested close to the original route of the world's first passenger steam train in the 19th Century.

The chairman of the A1 Trust, Mark Allatt says: "It's so wonderfully British - I love it."

He said: "No-one anticipated we would build a new steam locomotive all these years on."

Birthplace of the railways

Hundreds of volunteers from around the UK have joined in the project to build the engine from scratch at a workshop at the Darlington Railway Centre and Museum.

The museum houses Robert Stephenson's Locomotion 1, the world's first steam-powered passenger train, which made its first journey in on 27 September 1825 close by on the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

Mr Allatt hopes to start testing the engine in April on a specially laid track in Darlington and then on the privately-run Great Central Railway line in Leicestershire.

If all goes well, the 72ft (22 metre) long locomotive will be put through its paces on mainline tracks over the summer.

When completed the steam engine will be used for charter journeys.

The A1 class of Pacific locomotives was designed by Arthur H Peppercorn for the London and North Eastern Railway and built in 1948/49.

They were the last of the East Coast Main Line's series of express passenger steam locomotives.

When they were replaced by diesel trains in the 1960s, all 49 Peppercorns were scrapped, having been in service for an average of 15 years.

The original locomotive had a top speed of 100mph (160km/h) but the modern version has been designed to run at 90mph.

Today, heritage trains are a booming tourist attraction.

According to UK Heritage Railways, there are 108 railways in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, receiving a total of six million visitors and generating an income of 50m in 2005.



SEE ALSO
Milestone for steam loco project
09 Jul 06 |  England
Steam loco project in cash plea
16 Jul 05 |  England

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