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Science Museum Group Launches Flying Scotsman Tender

The Science Museum Group has published an Invitation to Tender (ITT) to begin the search for Flying Scotsman’s new custodian. 

The previous custodian agreement with Riley & Son (E) Ltd ended on 31 December 2023 and the Group is now seeking to enter into a new arrangement that will last until 31 January 2032. 

The contract is expected to start on 3 June 2024 and the tender is an open competition designed to ensure that all bids are given equal and fair consideration.

Once appointed, the custodian will be responsible for operating and maintaining Flying Scotsman and working with the National Railway Museum and partners to plan and deliver Flying’s Scotsman’s operational calendar. 

Flying Scotsman is currently based at the National Railway Museum in York and the locomotive will remain in public ownership as part of the Science Museum Group’s collection.

Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum, said: 

“We are seeking a single supplier to act as custodian for Flying Scotsman and to work closely with us to ensure that the 100 year old locomotive receives the best care possible to preserve it for future generations. We also want to give people across the UK the chance to see the locomotive in person and we will create a public engagement calendar that includes main line excursions, heritage railway visits and display at the National Railway Museum and Locomotion.”

Tender responses will be evaluated on both price and quality and scored on a series of criteria including previous experience, technical ability, public engagement, staffing, project management and sustainability. 

As well as operating and maintaining the locomotive, the custodian will also be responsible for Flying Scotsman’s next overhaul – due before the main line boiler ticket expires in 2029. 

Flying Scotsman will remain in the current configuration and livery, numbered 60103 to reflect as closely as possible its condition at the end of its working life in the early 1960s. The tender does include provision for the National Railway Museum to convert the locomotive to a single chimney and change the livery, if requested. It also includes a limit on annual mileage to ensure a balance between operational requirements and conservation. 

For further information, visit the Science Museum Group’s procurement website: All queries from potential bidders regarding the tender process must be made via the website. 


For more information please contact: Simon Baylis, PR, Press and External Relations Manager, 01904 686 299, 


The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and is the most visited free attraction in the region, receiving more than 572,577 visitors in 2022.   

The collection includes including more than 260 locomotives and rolling stock, thousands of railway objects, and over 1.75 million documents, photographs and artwork in its archives.  

The National Railway Museum forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, Locomotion in Shildon, and the National Collections Centre in Wiltshire.   

Admission to the National Railway Museum is free, although visitors are encouraged to book in advance, visit: