Flying Scotsman to steam round Forth in May
Flying Scotsman is to haul trips round the "Forth Circle" to Fife and Stirling in May, its National Railway Museum owner has announced.
News of the world's most famous locomotive's second Scottish visit this year will give steam lovers the chance to join an excursion at a fraction of the cost of its other Scottish trip this year, to Inverness.
Tickets for the four-hour rides are expected to cost from around £99 to £149, with booking likely to open in early March.
That compares to between £699 and £999 for Flying Scotsman's Edinburgh-Inverness trip earlier in May, which includes three nights in a hotel but the return journey will be hauled by a diesel locomotive instead.
The Forth Circle trips on Sunday, 19 May will be from Linlithgow or Dalmeny in South Queensferry via the Forth Bridge and round the Fife Circle via Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes, then through Dunfermline, Culross, Alloa and Stirling.
Roger Haynes, commercial director of Bo'ness-based SRPS Railtours, which is organising the trips, said: "We are delighted that in May, Flying Scotsman will haul our Forth Circle steam specials which cross the iconic Forth Bridge and feature the Fife coast and Stirling Castle along this scenic route around central Scotland."
Flying Scotsman, which will celebrate its centenary in 2023, is the oldest working locomotive still operating on main lines in Britain.
It was restored at a cost of more than £4 million by the museum in 2016 and has visited Scotland three times since for tours of the Borders Railway and Fife Circle.
Some 50,000 people turned out to see the locomotive in 2016 on its first trip north of the Border since 2000.
However, the visit nearly had to be cancelled at the last minute because the necessary checks had not been completed by Network Rail to ensure it would fit under bridges.
Campaigners want the line between Dunfermline and Alloa re-opened to passengers now that it is no longer used by coal trains following the closure of Longannet Power Station near Kincardine in 2016.
However, the route would need to be upgraded for passenger trains because of its current poor ride quality.
The Scottish Government's Transport Scotland welcomed the use of the currently disused line.
A spokesman said: “We value the contribution of heritage charter services to Scottish tourism and are delighted that the Bo’ness-based Scottish Railways Preservation Society are exploiting the former Dunfermline–Alloa freight line as part of a leisurely and scenic tour around the Forth.
“While investment in our railways to connect communities remains a priority for the Scottish Government, there are no current plans within our rail investment strategy to reopen this low-speed, single-track line for scheduled passenger services between Dunfermline and Stirling.”
Flying Scotsman’s first trip this - the ‘Scotsman Salute’ - took place on 11 January as a special tribute to former owner Sir William McAlpine, who died last year.
Jim Lowe, head of operations at the National Railway Museum, said: “As ever, I would like to remind people wishing to see Flying Scotsman, to do so in safety and to ensure they do not trespass on the railway line.”
Flying Scotsman was designed by Edinburgh-born Sir Nigel Gresley and built in Doncaster for the London and North Eastern Railway.