Flying Scotsman's victorious return
Flying Scotsman made a triumphant return to Scotland at the weekend, thrilling steam enthusiasts across the country.
Thousands turned out at various vantage points along fields, footbridges and nearby train stations to catch a glimpse of the iconic locomotive as she rolled into Scotland for the first time in 16 years.
Indeed it was a spectacle for many to watch Flying Scotsman roll across the Forth Bridge on Sunday evening after undergoing a 10-year restoration.
The visit finally went ahead following an 11th hour climbdown by Network Rail which had said the two planned excursions could not go ahead as the engine could not travel on the routes.
But after an intervention by Derek Mackay, Scottish transport minister, public pressure and hard work carried out by Scotrail, the events on Sunday went ahead.
The transport body has since apologised for delays in checking whether lines were suitable for the 93-year-old locomotive.
The world’s most famous steam train embarked on two tours over the weekend – the first, in the morning, along the newly opened Borders Railway to Tweedbank and later in the evening, passengers had the chance to enjoy travelling behind Flying Scotsman as it took in a circular tour of Fife over the Forth Bridge.
I was one of the 400 passengers aboard The Cathedrals Express train which was travelling behind Flying Scotsman on the first trip from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I was certainly not disappointed.
Scotsman pulled out of Edinburgh Waverley at approximately 10.45am in a cloud of steamy smoke with crowds lining the platform to see her off.
We toasted the trip with a glass of champagne accompanied with a plate of asparagus and parmesan.
It was wonderful to listen to the sound of the steam train as she puffed her way along the scenic Borders Railyway and my fellow passengers enjoyed the journey as much as I did.
We stopped briefly at Galashiels before arriving at our destination in Tweedbank at noon when we had a chance to take some close-up photographs of the locomotive including the cabin crew.
We spent the next few hours in Tweedbank before getting back on board and heading back to Edinburgh. On the journey home we were treated to a light two-course lunch of beef and salad and a tasty piece of chocolate brownie cake with refreshments.
In the evening, Flying Scotsman carried a further 440 passengers over the Forth Bridge and around the Fife circle where trainspotters had lined up at stations along the route to take their snaps.
Afterwards the locomotive was due to go on display at Bo’ness Station on the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway before returning south today (Monday).
The British Transport Police (BTP) thanked the tens of thousands of people who flocked to see the steam train for heeding their safety advice and warnings about trespassing.
BTP dealt with only eight people for trespassing on the railway line as Flying Scotsman toured the Borders Railway and Fife Circle.
Chief Superintendent John McBride, Divisional Commander for BTP in Scotland, said: “The return of Flying Scotsman was a true spectacle and I want to thank all those people who lined the route and stations to see it as it passed.
“In the main our earlier advice and warnings about not straying on the line to view it were heeded. Our officers worked tirelessly with our rail industry partners to ensure the day’s events passed with out any real incident of note.
“It was a truly memorable day for many and I look forward to its return in the future.”
Marcus Robertson, chairman of Steam Dreams, which organised the excursions to Scotland, added: “We received a very warm welcome when we arrived in Edinburgh with Flying Scotsman and it was a great privilege to travel along these two stunning routes behind one of the world’s most famous locos.”