Wednesday 12 April 2017

'Mallard' quacking in it's boots

First it had Clarkson spitting out an egg sandwich on it's footplate, then an A3 comes along to steals the limelight, but the Steam Train enthusiasm rolls on - quickly.

This is where we say we are never surprised with news of Steam Railways hitting the main headlines of News, but Ambassador you are spoiling us.

The bland, boring tests by Network Rail as the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust aim for another certificate or filling in Health & Safety forms to enable them to keep to timings set by routing paths doesn't exactly sound the stuff that news is made of. But, hey believers, this is where our hobby pays off as 'non-believers' start to get it. 

On the morning of Wednesday 12th April 2017, David Proctor and Graeme Bunker were throwing copious amounts of coal into the firebox of A1 'Tornado' between York and Darlington for those boring tests. The piece nobody decided to tell the Admin of 'Railway Photograph Group' (despite their position in the world) is that part of the test was to push the limits to 100mph.

Yes, we all knew it was possible,

Yes, we all know other Locomotives could probably grab this target,

But, in the world of health and safety, Hi Viz Vests, Cones at every angle and helicopters chasing the runt sperm that managed to headbutt an egg down the ECML it was a shock to see that common sense prevailed. 

The spirit of Fireman Bray and Driver Duddington from 79 Years ago was back with a vengeance. The news spreading that something magical has happened with a Steam Locomotive designed, built and raced in Britain reached us from a secret position. Every detail was kept from us until the headline that a locomotive has smashed 100 mph.

If the A1 was announced as being at Kings Cross by 8am. The platforms would have been lined. We would have hoped, above all hopes, that Gresley may have been there to see it home. Yes its fantastical, but our Steam locomotives are fantastic beasts and we know just where to find them. (Get it.)

Now we said a few months ago that the only locomotive that could knock that A3 off its pedestal would be that A4. The record holder that has basked in its own glories for 79 Years. 

Well, no, 'Tornado' is back by doing what it was designed to do. It is officially a 100mph Locomotive.

But where does this leave 'Mallard'? Will the push for speed and steam in the modern network push the lust for records even further to 127 mph? 

Would this not be the Race for the North against competing train companies but indeed be the ultimate showcase of British Engineering at a time when this country is standing on the world's stage without any friends from Europe. 

The safety and maintenance of the National Rail Network was the winner on the morning of 12th April 2017. This speed was possible, and safe. Who knows what envelope will be pushed next and which locomotives will get up onto that pedestal next.

But we can't wait to find out.

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