"Please send Tornado to the rescue." My text message wings its way through the electronic ether from south of Grantham - where my two-mile-a-minute National Express electric has been reduced to a 20mph crawl due to faults with the overhead lines - to Darlington where, yesterday, Britain's very latest main line railway locomotive was turning its wheels for the first time in public.
Tornado might well have been able to help. For this 160-tonne, 3,000hp locomotive capable of 100mph is powered not by a fickle supply of electricity but by West Midlands coal, Durham water and sweat from a legion of enthusiastic brows. The end product of 18 years of fundraising, revived design skills and tenacious engineering by the members of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, Tornado will soon take to the main lines of Britain, and even of France and Germany, where it will rush trainloads of enthusiasts and others nostalgic for the age of steam at, wherever possible, a steady 90mph.
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