Passenger Operation

Tornado in steam at Darlington Locomotive Works, 8 August 2008

After leaving the GCR, it is intended that Tornado will not be transported by road, therefore she will only see service on the main line, or on heritage lines with a main line connection. An exception will be transport back to Darlington for major overhaul, after five years service.

It was expected that the first phase of main line operational running would be limited to trips of 200 to 250 miles (400 km). The expanded water capacity of the tender allows legs of over 100 miles (160 km) between water stops, 25 miles further than the original Peppercorn A1s.

To assist in passenger operation, in 2008 the Trust purchased their own support coach, a British Railways Mark 1 Brake Composite Corridor type, No. 21249. Tornado has a route availability of 9.

Inaugural trains on the Great Central Railway

Following the gaining of HMRI approval the previous week, Tornado made her passenger train debut on 21 September 2008 at the GCR.

The inaugural train was formed of a rake of eight carriages, formed (from the front) of three rhubarb and custard liveried coaches, four green liveried coaches, and a special rear coach. This rear coach was a restored LNER beavertail observation car. This train departed at 10.15 am from Quorn and Woodhouse station, and ran non-stop to Leicester North station, back to Loughbrough, and then Quorn. Five trains in all ran on this first day, with all special services being restricted to those involved with the Trust, with Tornado running around in a non-platform passing loop at Loughborough Central. On this day, 1,0002,000 covenantors, donors and guests travelled on the service.

The first public trains for fare paying passengers began the next day on 22 September 2008, limited to the normal line speed. On this day, over 1,000 passengers were carried on the three sold-out trips.

Heritage railways

Tornado at the GCR, wearing a headboard for the 125th anniversary of the Boys' Brigade event, 4 October 2008

While at the GCR for the first time, Tornado also took part in the 125th anniversary of the Boys' Brigade wearing a special headboard on 4 October 2008, and hauled the preserved GCR Travelling Post Office rake.

The last passenger operation at the GCR was on Sunday 12 October 2008, the culmination of a three day gala weekend event. Tornado operated over the weekend alongside Leander, Oliver Cromwell and Lord Nelson, which was to have an "end of steam" theme. The first announced heritage event for Tornado was an appearance at the 2009 Spring gala at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, 110 May.

Following a servicing visit on her 6 November 2008 test run, Tornado returned to the Barrow Hill roundhouse on the weekend of 45 April, arriving on 30 March. As well as Tornado, the LNER themed event featured, among others, the LNER locomotives A2 Class 60532 Blue Peter, and the A4 Classes 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley and 4488 Union of South Africa. At this event, Tornado was posed alongside narrow gauge (15 inches/38 centimetres) locomotive No.7 Typhoon of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, recreating an LNER publicity shot held previously with Typhoon and LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman. 60532 Blue Peter, which is a semi-permanent resident of Barrow Hill, was repainted in apple green for display alongside Tornado. The 6 November meeting of Tornado and 60532 Blue Peter in the Barrow Hill roundhouse re-created a scene not witnessed for nearly 50 years.

Inaugural main line trains

Tornado arrives in Newcastle on her first mainline passenger trip, The Peppercorn Pioneer, on 31 January 2009

Tornado completed her first passenger trip on the main line on 31 January 2009, a return trip from York to Newcastle, via Darlington and Durham. As with the trains at the GCR, the first two official passenger trips on the mainline were to be for covenanters only. These trips were provisionally announced as two specials from York to Newcastle and back, making one trip on 31 January 2009, with the same trip repeated the next day. This would see Tornado repeating the route of the last tour hauled by the last surviving original Peppercorn A1, 60145 St Mungo, 42 years previously. These trains were announced as The Peppercorn Pioneers on 18 January 2009. The first train would be carrying 500 passengers in a rake of 13 carriages. On 23 January, on advice from the British Transport Police and Network Rail, due to concerns over crowd safety at Newcastle station due to the 1 February Tyne-Wear football derby match between Newcastle United F.C. and Sunderland A.F.C., the second Peppercorn Pioneer was re-arranged into a return trip from Doncaster to Durham, with Tornado hauling the train for the outbound leg and part of the return leg.

Newly built A1 Class engine, Tornado, passes Tallington Junction in February snow en route to King's Cross

Tornado's first publicly available train, and also her first trip to London, was hauling an A1 Trust Talisman railtour on 7 February 2009 from Darlington to King's Cross. Tornado's first trains out of London were two Valentine's Day Cathedrals Express excursions from London Victoria on 14 February 2009, a lunch tour and a dinner tour. The lunch tour was later modified to leave from London Waterloo station, making Waterloo as Tornado's first London departure point. Tornado's first Pullman class train was expected to be a Yorkshire Pullman on 26 February 2009, hauling the British Venice-Simplon Orient Express (VSOE) coaching stock from King's Cross to York. This was later postponed to 18 April 2009. The new date also saw Tornado scheduled to run a return journey back to King's Cross on the same day. This was still expected to be Tornado's first passenger departure from King's Cross. Tornado's first trip to Scotland was The Auld Reekie Express on 28 February 2009, with steam traction one way from York to Edinburgh. With Following Saturday 7th March making her first journey from Scotland. As of January 2009, the Trust planned to run their own excursion with Tornado over the Settle-Carlisle Line on 3 October 2009.

Fastest operational steam locomotive

Tornado at speed near Peterborough on 7 February 2009

In 2004, approval was sought for 90 mph (140 km/h) running, which would make Tornado the fastest present-day steam locomotive in Britain. This approach is required to run at speeds comparable to contemporary rail traffic, involving full certification of Tornado. While older preserved steam locomotives are subject to speed and safety restrictions, approval for 90 mph (140 km/h) running is possible for Tornado due to her brand new condition. Like her predecessors, the original Peppercorn A1 class, Tornado could reach 100 mph (160 km/h).

It was expected that Tornado would achieve certification to be allowed to run at 90 mph (140 km/h) on the main line, although it was believed this may not occur until 2009. As of January 2009, having gained approval for running at 75 mph (121 km/h), "active discussion" was said to be taking place about testing Tornado to "a higher speed".

If 90 mph (140 km/h) running is achieved, Tornado would become the fastest steam locomotive in Britain, and the second fastest in the world. Regular 90 mph (140 km/h) steam operation was last seen in Britain in 1967 with the Merchant Navy class Pacific locomotives operating on the Waterloo to Bournemouth route. The fastest operational steam locomotive in the world is Deutsche Reichsbahn 18.201, allowed to run in Germany up to 180 km/h (110 mph).

While Tornado will be limited to 90 mph (140 km/h) on the UK main line, there is a possibility that she could reach higher speeds, if transported to Germany. If she was towed through the Channel Tunnel, according to the Trust, Deutsche Bahn had informed the Trust that Tornado would be allowed to run "as fast as [they] like".