A CHARITY is preparing to build a third steam powered locomotive and is almost ready for the formal launch of the programme.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, which built the 100mph Tornado and is constructing Britain's most powerful steam locomotive No 2007 Prince of Wales, is starting on a project to build a third locomotive.

It has already started scanning 366 original Doncaster Works drawings, which will enable it to build the yet-to-be named third Gresley class V4 No 3403.

This week marked the 80th anniversary of the unveiling of the original V4 prototype.

Trust chairman Steve Davies said: “We are in the pre-launch phase of the project to build our third new main line steam locomotive, the yet-to-be-named Gresley class V4 No. 3403 – Sir Nigel Gresley’s final design.

"With the order for construction now placed on Darlington Locomotive Works, the scanning of the drawings commenced, and further components acquired, we are well positioned for the formal launch of the project.

“We want to be ready to start assembling our new Gresley class V4 as soon as our new class P2 is completed."

It is anticipated the project will cost about £3m and will take five years, depending on how fast funds are raised.

Mr Davies added: "Our new Gresley class V4 is an ideal locomotive for regional main line tours, repeat main line itineraries and the longer, main line connected heritage railways.

"Unlike with our class P2, where we have had to do a considerable amount of development work to complete the job that Sir Nigel Gresley started in 1934, there will be very little redesign work needed as there were no known problems with the Gresley class V4s."

The trust is planning to launch a founder's club to help fund the early stages of the project, the details of which will be announced later in the year.

The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) class V4 was a 2-6-2 steam locomotive designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, who also designed the Flying Scotsman.