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Page last updated at 14:24 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 15:24 UK
How locomotive got back on track
The Tornado is the first steam locomotive built in the UK for 50 years

"The whole idea came about as everything really does... in a pub over drinks!"

Peter Neesam is one of the engineers involved in making the Tornado steam locomotive a reality.

"It took 18 years" he explains. "It was all funded by people donating money... that's the beauty of it."

The No. 60163 Tornado is based on the designs of the Peppercorn class 'A1' steam locomotives which were built in the late 1940s but scrapped in 1966.

49 of the express passenger steam locomotives were in service but they were soon eclipsed by the more modern diesel powered trains.

However, a group of enthusiasts shared a vision to resurrect one of the lost engines, a dream that became reality when it first moved under its own power last year. The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall both attended the historic naming ceremony.

"Since January the 1st we've been out on the main line doing tours and visiting different railway centres like Didcot" says Peter. "She's doing very well."

The Tornado
The locomotive is more comfortable to drive than older models

Building the engine took 18 years, but this doesn't include the time it took to track down the drawings from the National Railway Museum and interpret them.

More problems lay ahead for the team in Darlington. "It was very hard to find companies to do parts for it" Peter admits.

Morris Williams from Didcot is getting to grips with the Tornado. He applauds its improved ergonomics over older steam trains: "It's a lot more comfortable… all the controls are within easy reach."

"[With] some engines you're bent over at quite an awkward angle" he explains "[but]you can see everything that's happening on the foot plate."

Graham Ward, also from Didcot, has been driving the locomotive around the country and has enjoyed every moment. "It's quite an awesome experience… the engine performs in an absolutely fantastic fashion.

"Many people said they'd never do it.. but they have!"

The Tornado
The Tornado will be at the Didcot Railway Centre until 2 September

The Tornado can travel on the standard network because it carries the latest railway safety electronics.

The steam train was recently seen in action on the BBC's Top Gear programme. It helped transport Jeremy Clarkson from London to Edinburgh in a race with James May's Jaguar XK120.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust that owns the train is seeking to raise funds to repay the £700,000 borrowed to complete her construction.

From 16 August to 2 September 2009 it will be at the Didcot Railway Centre to inspect at close quarters.

Steam locomotive goes on display
26 Aug 09 |  Oxfordshire
IN PICTURES: Locomotive in Didcot
26 Aug 09 |  History
Passenger steam train runs again
02 May 09 |  England
Steam train arrives in London
07 Feb 09 |  UK


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