Gallery: Tornado passes through Comet Country

HUNDREDS of steam train enthusiasts gathered at stations across Comet country on Saturday afternoon to witness a moment of railway history. Passing through Arlesey, Hitchin, Stevenage and Knebworth on its maiden journey was a green Tornado, the first main

HUNDREDS of steam train enthusiasts gathered at stations across Comet country on Saturday afternoon to witness a moment of railway history.

Passing through Arlesey, Hitchin, Stevenage and Knebworth on its maiden journey was a green Tornado, the first mainline steam engine to be built in Britain for nearly five decades.

Built at a cost of �3m, the Peppercorn class A1 Pacific engine was built in Darlington over 18 years thanks to donations from enthusiasts.

Tornado pulled 13 carriages, equating to around 500 tons, and hit speeds of 75mph on its journey from Darlington to London King's Cross.

The journey took twice as long as the regular rail service but there were no complaints.

Robert Morland, of the A Steam Locomotive Trust, said at the end of the journey: "We built it to the original plans and drawings which came from 1948, so the engine is completely new."

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Mr Morland said there was no risk from steam trains saying: "The approach to steam has changed in the last few years but once you have your engine fully certified for the mainline there isn't really a problem.

"Although it does create some smoke, actually pulling 500 people with a steam engine is quite an efficient way of transporting people.

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