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Tornado rescues stranded commuters in Kent

Wednesday, December 23 2009

Tornado hauling The Cathedrals Express through Staplehurst. Photo Craig Stretton, A1 Steam Locomotive Trust.

Tornado defied the Arctic weather on Monday 21 December 2009 and hauled two of only a handful of trains that managed to operate in Kent that day. The new Peppercorn class A1 pacific’s 1940s technology was able to withstand the snow and ice that brought much of Southern England to a standstill and hauled The Cathedrals Express from London Victoria to Dover and back without a hitch. On the second trip Tornado was able to rescue commuters who had been left stranded by more ‘modern’ trains, dropping them off at stations en-route.

On Tuesday 22 December 2009, Tornado headed back to the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York  for scheduled winter maintenance.Visitors to the NRM will be able to see Tornado undergoing her winter maintenance regime in the workshop from 1 January to 20 January 2010. Although the locomotive will arrive on Tuesday 22 December 2009, and not leave until early February 2010, she is unlikely to be easily viewable outside of these dates.

It does rather seem that Eurostar have missed an opportunity here, with Tornado having proven her ability to work a heavy train in the iciest of conditions, the company could have had an ideal locomotive to haul its trains from Calais to St Pancras, or at least onwards from the Tunnel entrance at Cheriton. What a pity the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority has a rather prissy attitude to running steam engines!

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