by Emily Wonford
AS THE cold weather turned to icy conditions, thick snow, and delays across the nation, many commuters and holiday makers suffered.
Blizzards and un-gritted roads caused chaos along motorways, airports cancelled flights into Gatwick and Manchester leaving thousands of holiday makers stranded, and the railways, including Eurostar, failed at the most inconvenient time of year.
Then 100 London commuters were found waiting at London Victoria after lines had been suspended between Ashford and Dover, December 21, because cold weather disabled the electric rail causing trains to fail.
However, Christmas was saved by unlikely hero, the Tornado, a Steam Engine that was set to give its passengers a night of ‘wine and dine’ along the South East line to Dover and back to London Victoria, that normally costs around £200.
Meanwhile, 25 stranded passengers who were travelling to Swanley and Maidstone East were given a free ride home by the Tornado, and for many was a Christmas treat that they will never forget, while paying passengers enjoyed a four course meal with all the Christmas trimmings.
Graeme Bunker, the Head of Cathedral Express, told the Daily Mail: “The passengers were all stuck and had no way of getting home, so we were delighted to help them out as there was plenty of space.”
The Tornado, a £3 million Peppercorn Class A1 Pacific, with a limited maximum speed of 75 mph, was the pulling machine for the evening, making the night spectacular for certain TopGear fans, after Jeremy Clarkson worked on the footplate earlier in the year.
Tony Streeter, previous editor of top-selling steam magazine, ‘Steam Railway’ said: “TopGear has given a wider interest in steam.”
The Tornado was able to safely take home stranded passengers and complete its journey around the South Coast because the steam melted most of the snow off the tracks and electrical equipment that is used in modern-day trains, that when are affected by wet weather cease to work, is not used in Steam Engines, so it would not fail.