A LOCOMOTIVE that hit the headlines when it became the first steam engine to haul a timetabled passenger service in half a century calls at Swindon today.

The Peppercorn class Tornado has been pulling trains between Settle and Carlisle, the first to haul a timetabled passenger service on a main line in half a century, to celebrate the reopening of the famous line.

But today it takes the Saint David special from London Paddington to Cardiff and will be stopping in Swindon.

Enthusiasts are expected to turn out in force to see the loco, built for the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust over 18 years ago - 42 years after the last Peppercorn class engine was scrapped.

Steam engineer Colin Hatch, who was involved in the Swindon 175 celebrations last year, said: “It is sure to evoke memories for people that go to see it.

“It is almost like they are a living being really. They have a kind of ambience about them."

Although the Peppercorn class was built originally for the London and North Eastern Railway to a 1945 design, Tornado is equipped for the modern mainline with the latest safety electronics.

Funding for the £3m project came from public donations and backing was provided by businesses including Rolls-Royce and Bae Systems.

The trust recently unveiled plans to build a second express locomotive – a Gresley class P2 Mikado called Prince of Wales.

The St David special runs from London Paddington via Slough and Reading, and was due to call at Swindon at 11.05am but eventually arrived at 11.50am.

The service is due to back in Swindon at 7.20pm today.

Visit a1steam.com for details of the service and see the Swindon Advertiser Facebook page for the full video of today's visit.