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Steam locomotive hits 100mph on East Coast main line

Steam locomotive hits 100mph on East Coast main line Photo: Alan Weaver

Tests have taken place on the East Coast Mainline to determine the highest speed steam trains can travel at safely.

Britain's newest locomotive, a Peppercorn class A1 named Tornado, hit the 100mph mark during test runs between Newcastle and Doncaster.

When travelling on the East Coast Main Line steam engines are currently limited to 75mph, but the intention is to run locomotives at speeds of up to 90mph.

The speedometer as the locomotive hit the 100mph mark Credit: Graeme Bunker-James

This would help to reduce congestion and keep up with the high speed services on the busy UK rail networks.

Controlled testing found that steam engines will instead be able to travel at up to 100mph.

In common with other rail vehicles Tornado had to operate at 10% above its planned maximum speed to demonstrate a sufficient margin of safety. The tests were monitored by various rail industry engineers and certification bodies including organised by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, DB Cargo Rail and Network Rail.

Graeme Bunker-James, Operations Director for The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, said:

We are delighted to have completed the test runs that move us one step closer to 90mph operations with Tornado.

This will allow us to ensure that the locomotive continues to haul trains on the busiest parts of the UK network allowing as many people as possible to enjoy travelling with Tornado.

As part of these tests the locomotive operated at 90mph for a sustained period and also achieved 100mph under these special conditions and running with clear signals. I would like to thank all of our industry partners for their support in making these trials a success.

We now have to analyse the results from the tests and then complete the necessary certification processes before the first 90mph public operations can be undertaken. We hope to conclude this before the end of 2017.’’

– Graeme Bunker-James