This ambitious excursion, promoted by the A1 Locomotive Trust, aimed to reproduce the flagship East Coast Main Line passenger service between London and Edinburgh from the 1950s to the 1970s.
An early start from King Cross saw Peppercorn A! Pacific No 60163 head north for its journey of nearly 400 miles. She started gently so her first turn of speed came after Potters Bar and she reached her 75 mph limit before Hatfield. On a clearly busy line it was only after St Neots that she got back into the mid seventies and arrived at Peterborough on time. We went up Stoke Bank in the early 70s but after the water stop at Grantham there was sustained mid-seventies running right through Newark and Retford to the outskirts of Doncaster. Then another fast spell saw us six minutes early at Colton Junction, after which we crawled into the water stop at York in customary fashion.
Across the Vale of York the running was restrained but after Darlington we again hit a sustained burst of seventies running until Chester le Street, before creeping into Tyne Yard for water and coal. After Newcastle we reached 62 at Longbenton and 72 by Cramlington; after the Morpeth curve we were back in the mid-seventies all the way to the outskirts of Berwick. From there to Edinburgh there were several more high speed bursts, interspersed with checks and being looped at Grantshouse. The final crawl into Edinburgh did not take away from the exhilaration of a long high speed run, worthy of the best of the LNER Pacifics.
But our excitement was not over, as we were to be hauled back to London by English Electric Deltic loco N0 D9009 Alycidon, with its deep throated roar and acrid blue smoke impressing themselves on all our senses, even though we remained at the back of the train. I did not keep a detailed log but we were at or near 100 mph most of the way from Darlington to York, which I had left 36 hours ealier with a Class 91 to London. In this period I had experienced the best of East Coast motive power: steam, diesel and electric - a fitting commemoration of the Elizabethan era on this iconic railway line.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures