Princess runs out of steam

Substitute for Britain’s poshest train blows in.

A tornado has come to the rescue of passengers booked to travel on one of the world’s most luxurious trains from Birmingham this week after the locomotive that should have pulled it ran out of steam.

Crimson-painted engine Princess Elizabeth – which once hauled crack expresses through the city between London and Scotland – was unable to move after suffering a catastrophic boiler problem at its depot in Carnforth, Lancs. Devastated Northern Belle boss David Pitts faced having to cancel Friday’s sold-out trip over the spectacular Settle-Carlisle line through the Yorkshire Dales.

But now Tornado, the only steam loco to be built in Britain during the 21st century, has been drafted in to haul the 1930s-style Pullman train. It will depart from Birmingham International at 7.40am hauled by a heritage diesel locomotive before Tornado takes over at Carnforth.

Mr Pitts said: “Never in my life have I been so glad to see a Tornado! It’s a magnificent locomotive and the only steam engine to have reached 100mph in Britain during the last fifty years. So I am sure that none of the 200 passengers booked on Friday’s train will be disappointed. But if anybody is then we are offering them the chance to change their booking to another date.”

Crimson-painted Princess Elizabeth – affectionately known as ‘Lizzie’ by generations of railwaymen – was built at Crewe in 1933 and named after the then seven-year-old Queen. Mr Pitts is hoping that the locomotive will be repaired in time to haul Northern Belle over the same route from Birmingham on October 7th.

The trip featured on Channel 5’s The World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys programme earlier this year when actor Bill Nighy described the Northern Belle as “The Grand Duchess of luxury train travel”.

Then Northern Belle will also be in the city on August 21st for a trip to Kew Gardens, and then in September will take passengers to the Chelsea and Harrogate, as well a journey to Paignton and the Jurassic Coast.

For details see or phone 01270 899681.