'Tornado' breezes past 100-mph mark on UK main line

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Tornado seen operating an excursion train on the London to Brighton main line in 2009. This is the first British locomotive permitted to reach 100-mph operation since the 1960s.
Keith Fender
LONDON — One-hundred mile per hour steam operation returned to Britain's railways this week — for one night only! New-build steam loco Tornado undertook the 100-mph trial runs Tuesday and early Wednesday on the East Coast Main Line route between Newcastle and Doncaster, England. The purpose of the test runs was to enable certification for regular operation at 90-mph operating charter and excursion trains.

United Kingdom certification rules require that the permitted speed is exceeded by at least 10 percent to demonstrate safety and other systems work despite the higher speed. The locomotive achieved about 101 mph near Thirsk, north of York, England, on its southbound run from Newcastle during the early hours of April 12.

One-hundred mile-per-hour steam operated trains were last operated in Britain in the late 1960s on the route from London to Bournemouth, England, where despite the official limit being slower, express trains were regularly operated at 100 mph during the final years of steam operation. The last one was believed to be in 1967.

There is one other steam locomotive in Europe approved for use at 100 mph operation: German 4-6-2 type 18 201 which operated a 100-mph passenger charter in 2011 but which has since been restricted to about 75 mph.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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