"You must be Gordon!"
— Tornado excited to see Gordon

  • Number: 60163
  • Class: Peppercorn A1 Pacific
  • Designer: Arthur Peppercorn (original)
  • Builder: Darlington Works
  • Configuration: 4-6-2
  • Built: 2008

60163 Tornado is a mainline steam locomotive built in DarlingtonEngland. Completed in 2008, Tornado was the first such locomotive built in the United Kingdom since Evening Star, the last steam locomotive built by British Railways, in 1960. It is the only example of a LNER Peppercorn Class A1 class locomotive in existence, the entirety of the original production batch having been scrapped without preservation. The locomotive's namesake is the Panavia Tornado, a combat aircraft flown by the Royal Air Force.


The locomotive was built by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, a charitable trust founded in 1990 to build Tornado and possibly further locomotives. Tornado was conceived as an evolution of the LNER Peppercorn Class A1, incorporating improvements likely had steam continued, and changes for cost, safety, manufacturing and operational benefits, while replicating the original design's sound and appearance. Tornado, completely new-built, is considered the 50th Peppercorn A1, numbered next in the class after 60162, Saint Johnstoun, built in 1949.

The 49 original Peppercorn A1s were built in Doncaster and Darlington for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). Tornado was built in the trust's Darlington works. The original 49 locomotives were scrapped by 1966 after an average service of 15 years. None survived into preservation, and Tornado fills a gap in the classes of restored steam locomotives that used to operate on the East Coast Main Line.

Tornado moved under her own power for the first time on 29 July 2008 at Darlington, and then spent two months at the preserved Great Central Railway double-track tourist railway in Loughborough, where she was tested up to 60 mph (97 km/h) and operated her first passenger train. Tornado then moved to the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York for three test runs on the main line up to 75 mph (121 km/h). After repainting into LNER Apple Green, Tornado was approved for mainline passenger operation. On 31 January 2009 she hauled her first passenger trip on the main line,The Peppercorn Pioneer, from York to Newcastle and back. By hauling various A1 Trust railtours, charters and other activities, Tornado will begin to recoup the estimated £800,000 debt from the project, which cost around £3 million.

With a shorter rake of eleven coaches compared with the original Peppercorn A1's usage, Tornado is expected to achieve contemporary mainline speeds. Theoretically capable of 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), Tornado may in the future gain permission to run at 90 miles per hour (140 km/h), making her the fastest steam locomotive on the British main line. Once on the main line, Tornado is not expected to leave it again until its ten-year fire-tube boiler re-certification in late 2018.

On 21 June 2009, Tornado featured in the Top Gear Race to the North, coming second to a car in a three-way race from London to Edinburgh, against a 1949 Jaguar XK120 sports car and a 1949 Vincent Black Shadow motorbike.

Name, Number and LiveriesEdit

The name Tornado was chosen in honour of the Royal Air Force Tornado air crews flying at the time in the Gulf War. The honour of choosing the name was given to a £50,000 sponsor of the project. In 1995, officers of the Royal Air Force presented the Tornado nameplates to the trust at Tyseley Locomotive Works at the frame laying ceremony in January.

Tornado is numbered 60163, as the 50th Peppercorn A1. Tornado's smokebox door also carries the identification plate "51 A", the code for Darlington shed. The cab side carries the builder's plate "No. 2195 Darlington 2008". The front buffer beam carries the designation "A1", applied in the paint detailing phase for launch in Apple Green.

On 7 August 2008, Tornado was entered onto the Total Operations Processing System (TOPS).  Although the painted number is 60163, on the British mainline Tornado is designated 98863 in TOPS, where 98 describes a steam engine, the 8 stems from the power classification of 8P, and 63 comes from her 60163 number.

Tornado was in grey undercoat until final testing was completed, as a precaution against the need to remove the boiler cladding. The livery was described as "works grey” in a "satin finish". While in this undercoat, Tornado wore the web address of the A1 Trust on the side of the tender, and the mark RA9 (denoting route availability) on the locomotive cab. On her third main line test run to Newcastle, the web address was replaced with the National Express logo.

The first full livery is LNER-style express passenger apple green, with 'British Railways' on the tender, as worn by the original locomotives in 1948. The first 30 Peppercorn A1s delivered wore this colour This was applied by the NRM paint shop after completion of mainline trials at the NRM in York. Painting was behind closed doors, with the finished article unveiled (without nameplates) on 13 December 2008, in front of 500 supporters of the A1 Trust. The green livery was applied in the traditional way, brush painted by hand. Tornado was unveiled on the turntable with the NRM North Eastern Railway (NER) dynamometer car. Due to time constraints, detailing had been completed only on one side of the locomotive at the launch, and Tornado re-entered the paintshop after the launch before going back on display.

Prior to Tornado, LNER Thompson Class B1 1306 Mayflower and LNER Class D49 46 Morayshire were the only two operational steam locomotives in Britain wearing LNER green. LNER Class V2 4771 Green Arrow was withdrawn from mainline operations on 26 April 2008. LNER green was also the last livery worn by LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman prior to withdrawal in December 2005.

Over the life of her first ten-year boiler certificate, it is expected Tornado will also wear BR Blue, BR Brunswick Green (pre-1957) and Brunswick Green post-1957.

Although the name Tornado was chosen and nameplates manufactured long before the locomotive was completed, during commissioning and test running the nameplates were not attached. By railway convention, the locomotive is officially known by her number until the name plates are affixed.

Tornado was named by HRH The Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall and Dorothy Mather (widow of designer Arthur Peppercorn), at York railway station on 19 February 2009. The ceremony is marked by a plaque located below the nameplate. Tornado then pulled the Royal Train to Leeds.

In late 2010/early 2011 while undergoing winter maintenance at the National Railway Museum, Tornado was repainted into her second full livery. British Railway's Brunswick Green with the earlier BR crest. This livery was applied to the A1 class in the 1950s and is a darker green colour to the Apple Green, similar to the liveries carried by Great Western Railway engines. The early crest being replaced throughout various points in the late 1950s.

In late 2011/early 2012 again whilst undergoing maintenance this time at the Mid Hants Railway Tornado had its Brunswick Green livery retouched (following a slight visible scrape on its tender). At this point it was decided that the early crest should be replaced be the later crest which the A1's carried from the late 1950s until the withdrawal of the last class members in 1966 meaning that Tornado has carried 3 of the 4 original liveries carried by the earlier batches of A1's.

In September 2012 at the A1 Trust's annual convention for the loco's contributors at the Nene Valley Railway it was announced that in November 2012 Tornado would be repainted into British Railway's Express Passenger Blue livery. Express blue was the second livery carried by the A1's after entering service. The Blue was based on Caledonian blue, the livery of the Caledonian Railway, and was only applied to express locomotives such as the A1's for a few years before repainting into Brunswick Green. This will mean Tornado will have carried all 4 liveries carried over the life of some of the earlier A1 locos.

Tornado was repainted at Southall into BR Express Passenger Blue; this was unveiled at Didcot on 24 November 2012. Other preserved locomotives painted in this livery include 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley and 6023 King Edward II. It is expected that Tornado will be repainted in apple green during 2014.