Modernity Runs Out of Steam




Much of Britain has been brought to a shivering halt this week thanks to the Arctic frost.

We're not alone in facing the cold snap - northern Europe and North America are covered in snow too - but in the UK, much to the amusement of our foreign friends, a few inches of snow and sub-zero temperatures equals national catastrophe.

Take Eurostar. Their state-of-the-art trains were stranded in the Channel Tunnel this week thanks to the 'freak', well okay, wintry conditions. Confused passengers huddled together in St Pancras station waiting to see if they could depart this side of Christmas.

On the other side of town, commuters at Victoria fared far better thanks to the timely intervention of another meteorological wonder - a Tornado.

Not the Dorothy engulfing twister you understand, but the country's newest steam locomotive which entered service earlier this year. The A1 Pacific, financed and built by railway enthusiasts, was preparing to set-off on a Christmas special when they learnt of cancellations on the electric powered Kent lines. 'Hop on' was the plucky message and a hundred or so thankful passengers duly climbed aboard.

"If any of the train operators want to modernise their services by using steam trains, I'd be happy to give them a quote" said Mark Allatt, chairman of the charity that built Tornado.

Peter Clee (David Clee is stuck in snow)