THE world famous Flying Scotsman is back on track after a decade-long restoration costing £4.2 million.
Spectators were visibly moved as the locomotive steamed through East Lancashire Railway’s Bolton Street station in Bury yesterday, more than half a century after the 1923 engine was retired.
And similar scenes are set to be repeated in the Capital when the Flying Scotsman – about to begin a two-year tour of Britain – arrives in Edinburgh from York on Saturday, May 15 for a four-day Scottish “homecoming event”.
This will be followed by two rail excursions the following day – the first to Tweedbank railway station on the recently opened Borders Railway and the second over the Forth Bridge just as the sun is setting.
Marcus Robertson, chairman of Steam Dreams, which has organised the trip, said: “It’s hard to think of a more iconic Scottish structure than the Forth Bridge. It will be an emotional moment for many Scots as the locomotive goes across South Queensferry.
“I would be very surprised if there weren’t large crowds waiting for it. This is really a homecoming for the locomotive.”
It is understood that the locomotive has not crossed the Forth Bridge this century and has only done so on a handful of occasions in its working life.
Mr Robertson stressed that Scots living in Edinburgh and the Lothians would be able to buy tickets for the excursions.
The engine, which was retired from service in 1963, has been restored for York’s National Railway Museum (NRM) in a shed in Bury.
The Flying Scotsman was built in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in 1923 and soon became the star locomotive of the British railway system, pulling the first train to break the 100mph barrier in 1934.
Last year it topped a poll of the world’s best-known trains and locomotives following a worldwide survey by YouGov, where people across four continents were asked to name five trains or engines.
The locomotive has been brought back to life after the National Railway Museum bought it for £2.3m in 2004 before work got under way in 2006.
Hundreds of people of all ages lined the Lancashire tracks and bridges to catch a glimpse of the Flying Scotsman as other trains were suspended for the day.
Simon Holyroyd, the engineer manager for the National Railway Museum who has worked to get the loco back up and running, said: “It’s always been known as the world’s most famous steam locomotive and hopefully we will get it back up there in it’s rightful place and you can see a lot of people enjoying it.
“At times it’s been very, very hard, frustrating, very expensive. This is the big day. It’s really hit home today, it’s something special when you see everyone’s faces.”