Often called France’s greatest and fastest steam locomotive, the SNCF Class 242 A1 was the brainchild of French engineer André Chapelon. It was designed as a three-cylinder 4-8-2 "Mountain" type for "new generation" steam locomotives that never materialized. However, Chapelon's design finally proved to be an efficient and powerful vehicle that would have an indelible impact on the history of the steam locomotive.
Its peak power was 5,500 horsepower, and it had been tested at 94mph (151km/h).
This stunning train, affectionately known as the "Red Devil", was constructed from a Class 25NC locomotive by mechanical engineer David Wardale of England while working for South African Railways. It was rebuilt at the Salt River Works in Cape Town, South Africa, using the work of Argentinian engineer L.D. Porta. These locomotives featured one-piece cast steel frames with integral cylinders, roller bearings on all axles, and motion, along with mechanical and pressure lubrication.
Completed in 2008, Tornado is a main-line coal-fired steam locomotive built in Darlington, County Durham, England. Back then, it was the first such locomotive built in the United Kingdom since British Railways' Evening Star in 1960. The engine made an impression very quickly, hauling royal trains, and appearing on the big screen and in several television programs. By achieving 100mph (161km/h) on a test run in 2017, Tornado became the fastest steam train to operate since the 1960s. It has achieved a maximum speed of 102.3mph (164.6km/h).
Santa Fe 3751 is a steam locomotive owned by the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society. This large steam locomotive was built in 1927 by Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF). At that time, it was up to 20% more powerful than the most advanced locomotives in ATSF’s fleet.
Unlike many other retired steam locomotives, Santa Fe 3751 was donated to the City of San Bernardino, where it remained on display for several years. The locomotive was purchased by the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society in 1984 and restored in 1991.
The Norfolk and Western Class J is considered one of the most powerful locomotive classes ever built. In addition to their elegant and stunning design, these machines were also incredibly fast, reaching speeds of 110mph (177km/h). What’s more, they could pull a passenger train weighing more than 1000 tons! They had a 4-8-4 wheel arrangement, commonly referred to as "Northern" type locomotives. The Class J locomotives didn’t have a long run and were officially retired between 1958 and 1959 before most were sent off to be scrapped.
The Southern Pacific 4449 was designed primarily for passenger service. Built in 1941 by Lima Locomotive Work with a 4-8-4 (Northern) wheel arrangement, it truly deserved the fastest steam locomotive tag as it could reach a top speed of 110mph (177km/h). The locomotive, also known as "Daylight," was retired and stored in 1957 but was donated to the City of Portland, Oregon, a year later.
The SP #4449 was chosen in 1974 to pull "The American Freedom Train" for America's Bicentennial Celebration, which was to take place two years later. It is the sole surviving member of the Southern Pacific Railroad's "GS-4" class of 4-8-4 "Northern" steam engines.
Union Pacific 844 is the last steam locomotive built for the Union Pacific Railroad. This high-speed passenger engine, completed in 1944, hauled well-known trains such as the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose, and Challenger. As diesels took over all passenger train duties in the late 1950s, the Union Pacific 844 was saved from scrapping and used for promotional tours and public relations.
Hailed as Union Pacific's "Living Legend," the engine could reach speeds of 120mph (190km/h) and deserves its entry in the fastest steam train list. This is one of UP's oldest locomotives and the only steam locomotive owned by a North American Class I railroad that has never been retired.
Mallard is one of 35 Class A4s built between 1935 and 1938, setting its speed record, which still stands to this day, almost 80 years ago. What's even more amazing is that this very locomotive traveled almost 2.4 million miles during its 30 years of service. It is currently on display at the National Railway Museum in York, England, and is one of six surviving Class A4 locomotives in the world.
Cover image courtesy of Depositphotos
Content Source: Railfan