TORNADO is back on the tracks and coming in steam to the North-East in the autumn, calling in twice at its home town of Darlington.

The pandemic put an end to the steam locomotive’s planned diary of excursions in March, and it has been parked up at the National Railway Museum in York since lockdown began.

However, its period of isolation came to an end last week when it worked a test run to Lancashire and now the engine is being prepared for a season of trains starting in September.

Tornado is the only mainline steam to be built in the UK since the 1960s. It was constructed in Darlington’s Hopetown Lane Works, and after its inaugural run in 2008, it gained superstar status by appearing on the Top Gear TV programme, and in coming to the rescue of everyone’s favourite bear in the Paddington 2 movie. It is also the only steam locomotive to have reached 100mph in the last 50 years.

On September 12, a Saturday, Tornado will pull The Queen of Scots excursion. Modern traction will pick up passengers from York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle and speed them to either Edinburgh or Stirling, and Tornado will bring them home in what is described as “a spirited run south along the North Sea cliff tops of the North East”.

Tornado’s second visit is the following Saturday. On September 19, it will be the Ticket to Ride special which will be its first ever trip into Liverpool.

This train will stop for passengers at North Road and Bank Top stations in Darlington, plus Thirsk and York.

Tornado offers a range of tickets, from Premier Dining to Standard Class. Prices start at £109 for a day return.

All Government guidelines on safety due to the coronavirus pandemic will be followed, and so Tornado will be operating with reduced capacity.

However, Sophie James, of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust which is the charity that runs the engine, said: “Please be assured that should another lockdown be implemented, your money is safe and you will be given the option of a refund or hold your tickets over to a new date.”

For tickets and more information, go to or call the booking office on 01325-488215.

She added: “For those in search of a change of scenery and a superb day out following months of confinement, there’s no doubt that a day trip with Tornado offers a much needed change of pace. With both trains starting in the North East and stopping for passengers in Darlington, you’re guaranteed a wonderful day out whether chugging along cliff tops with spectacular sea views en route to Scotland or steaming through the fabulous Peak District landscape on the way to Liverpool.”