The Flying Scotsman is returning to Scotland
The world's most famous locomotive is returning to Scotland '“ but passengers will have to pay up to Â£999 for the experience.
Flying Scotsman will visit Inverness from Edinburgh in May for only the second time in its 96-year history.
The cost of the excursion for those in first class includes champagne and cakes and three nights in a four-star hotel in the Highland capital.
However, excursions during the trip will cost extra and the return journey will be hauled by a diesel-powered engine rather than steam.
Premium standard passengers, paying £699 each, will receive free tea and coffee and be put up at a Holiday Inn Express.
Last year, Flying Scotsman ran trips from Edinburgh over the Forth Bridge and round Fife for £225 for first-class passengers and £79 in premium standard.
The locomotive previously visited Inverness in 2000 as part its last visit to Scotland.
May’s tour will see the engine jointly haul the train with Mayflower, a B1 class steam locomotive built in 1948. Mayflower will also run separate trips from Inverness during the tour to Wick and Thurso, and Kyle of Lochalsh, at extra cost.
A spokeswoman for organisers The Steam Dreams Rail Co, said: “This time, instead of the short trips around the Fife Circle, we are offering a four-day tour to Inverness, with Flying Scotsman and sister locomotive Mayflower double-heading on the first day from Edinburgh to Inverness, via the Forth Bridge and the Highland main line.”
She said the price of the tickets reflected the extra cost of having two locomotives, with the trip part of a nine-day tour from London.
Steam Dreams owner David Buck said: “Flying Scotsman has not been to Inverness in recent history, and to experience the two locomotives performing at full power over this steeply-graded railway will be a great prospect for all lovers of steam. “It is the first time we have given passengers from Scotland an opportunity to join part of one of our nine-day tours.”
The visit will be Flying Scotsman’s fourth consecutive annual foray north of the border. Other previous excursions have been on the Borders Railway.
The locomotive made a special trip from London King’s Cross to York on Friday as a memorial to Sir William McAlpine, who was credited with rescuing the engine and paying for its restoration when he bought it in 1973.
Flying Scotsman was designed by Edinburgh-born Sir Nigel Gresley to haul the same-named Edinburgh-London express on the east coast main line.
It was the first steam locomotive to reach 100mph, in 1934, and set a record for the longest non-stop run, of 422 miles, in Australia in 1989. The engine was restored at a cost of more than £4 million by the National Railway Museum.
Further Flying Scotsman trips are expected to be announced shortly by the museum.
Steam will also come to Aberdeen this summer with Tornado, which featured in Paddington 2 and on Top Gear, hauling a new service called The Aberdonian.
The locomotive, built in 2008, will run the service in March, August and September, with return fares costing between £99 and £235.
Graeme Bunker-James, operations director of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, which runs Tornado, said: “We are extremely proud to be launching ‘The Aberdonian’ series of new special steam-hauled trains.”
The Jacobite steam train between Fort William and Mallaig will also return, with daily trips between April and October.
Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, which runs tracks and signals, said: “Tornado is a shining example of British engineering, reflecting the country that invented railways, and giving pleasure on every trip to thousands of Scots as it traverses Scotland.
“I hope this series of trips becomes a permanent feature of the Scottish railway scene.”
The Bo’ness-based Scottish Railway Preservation Society has yet to announce whether it will repeat last year’s steam-hauled trips over the Forth Bridge and round Fife.