The National Railway Museum has announced the date for Flying Scotsman's official return to steam and arrival home —and a once in a lifetime opportunity to win tickets to ride behind it on its historic journey.
While the locomotive is making its first appearances in steam for the first time since its decade-long, £4.2m restoration, the York museum also gave the welcome news that five lucky fans of Flying Scotsman can win tickets to ride behind the legendary locomotive on Thursday 25 February as it makes its official return to Britain’s mainline tracks on its London – York Inaugural Run.
Five pairs of tickets worth £450 each are up for grabs – all steam fans have to do is fill in their details on the Flying Scotsman website before the closing date of Sunday 7 Feb at 23.59pm. The lucky winners will be informed on Monday 8 Feb.
Last week marked Burns night which is in keeping with Flying Scotsman’s Scottish connections. Last month marked the anniversary of the locomotive's last run down the East Coast Mainline under public ownership. The run from Kings Cross to Doncaster on 14 Jan 1963 spelled out the end of two million miles for BR and drew huge crowds and massive media attention. At Doncaster works it was overhauled and painted apple green for new owner flamboyant business man Alan Pegler. The extensive work it has recently undergone in the Bury workshop of Riley &Son (E) Ltd is the most comprehensive it has undertaken since then.
Kate Hunter, Public Programmes Events Manager for the Scotsman Season at the National Railway Museum, said:
The journey sets off at breakfast time from London Kings Cross and our winners can enjoy a sumptuous Champagne breakfast and take in the scenic countryside as they steam down the East Coast Main Line on Flying Scotsman's historic journey home to York.
We hope that the chance to win tickets will be the perfect way to belatedly celebrate Burns night for Scotsman's adoring public. Our tickets will go on public sale at 10am on Thursday 4 February, just under a month before the big day itself and after the Scotsman mania that has struck the North West in recent weeks we’re expecting them to fly out of the door.
It's one of the most complex and lengthy overhauls of a steam locomotive ever undertaken, but the £4.2m restoration of steam celebrity Flying Scotsman has now reached the end of the line, with its test run programme well underway.
This steam icon roared into life at the beginning of 2016 as a live museum exhibit and in the coming weeks will be the oldest working steam locomotive on the mainline, with a planned passenger-carrying mainline test run rescheduled for the Settle-Carlisle line on 6 February.
The globetrotting screen star and multiple record-breaker is making the most of its return to the spotlight with Scotsman Season, a whole series of celebratory events and exhibitions planned at the National Railway Museum’s York and Shildon sites.
The season is being sponsored by Virgin Trains, which runs the modern day Flying Scotsman service between Edinburgh and London, and last year launched its own Flying Scotsman locomotive to promote this service on its iconic east coast route.
David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on its East Coast route, said:
The Flying Scotsman train has an incredible history as has the locomotive that carried its name. We are proud to be sponsoring this season and the work of the National Railway Museum to celebrate the return of the original train. We're also contributing to this rich history with our very own Virgin Flying Scotsman loco 91101, which continues to promote our flagship four-hour Edinburgh to London morning service. This is ahead of the introduction of our fantastic new Virgin trains in 2018 which will create a regular Edinburgh to London journey time of around four hours and an improved customer experience on-board.
The locomotive has been in the public eye right from the moment it was named after the world's oldest-established express train between London and Edinburgh and showcased at the Wembley Empire Exhibition in 1924. On 30 November, the anniversary of Flying Scotsman being the first locomotive to officially reach 100mph in 1934, the museum announced the results of a YouGov survey carried out online across four continents that put the steam star right at the top of the train league table, beating other great railway icons such as the Orient Express, Stephenson’s Rocket and Hogwarts Express into 14th and 25th place. Respondents in the UK, US, India and Australia were asked to name five trains or locomotives they had heard of.
Now Flying Scotsman has built up its mileage on heritage and main lines it will be transformed by the dedicated team at Heritage Painting into its BR Green livery in the paintshop at the York museum. Having already conquered the challenges of the Cumbrian countryside, with its nameplates and new number, it will be more than ready for its long awaited Inaugural Run between London King’s Cross and York on 25 February.
Jim Lowe, Head of Operations at the National Railway Museum, said:
Along with all our generous supporters for this complex project to bring a 1920s-built cultural icon back to life, we have all been looking forward to this historic day when Flying Scotsman steams again.
As well as seeing the icon out and about, the public can experience the essence of Flying Scotsman first-hand at our museum with our 2016 Scotsman Season sponsored by Virgin Trains on its east coast route. We hope the public will join us from the afternoon of Thursday 25 February to welcome Flying Scotsman home. First we will be showing it in light steam in our North Yard and then it will finish off as the centre of attention on our Great Hall turntable before moving on to its next tour date at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Heritage Minster Tracey Crouch, said:
From early 2016 The 'Scotsman' will tour the UK as a working museum exhibit, educating fans of all ages about the wonders of the engineering behind its steam traction. This is a wonderful way to tell the story of this iconic and well-travelled locomotive and will ensure that people now and in the future understand why it is such an important part of Great Britain's heritage.
From 25 March onwards, a six week display in the museum's Great Hall called "Stunts, Speed and Style" will tell the story of high speed travel between London and Edinburgh through the eras. Visitors will be able to get on board the cabs of four different locomotives including No. 60103 Flying Scotsman itself, which hauled the famous Flying Scotsman passenger train.
Visitors can also fully immerse themselves in the glamour and allure of the renowned luxury train service with a ground-breaking ticketed experience. "Service with Style" uses binaural sound and archive film on board three carriages of the kind that travelled the historic Flying Scotsman route to tell a story of speed, innovation, fame and luxury right up to the present day with the modern service run by Virgin Trains East Coast.
Throughout the season, there will be a family-friendly Scotsman science show on the theme of speed, model making and storytelling during the school holidays, a schedule of photography events and on 28 April, the museum’s first ever 'Lates' event on a roaring twenties theme. The season's finishing flourish will be the chance to see Flying Scotsman in light steam at a sixties-style ‘Shed Bash’ at the National Railway Museum’s Shildon Co. Durham site.
The National Railway Museum's Scotsman Season is sponsored by Virgin Trains, currently investing £21m in giving its fleet of 45 trains new luxurious features including leather seats in First Class, a new red hot look for Standard Class, new carpets and coloured mood lighting. The Welcome Home event runs from 25 February – 6 March and 'Starring Scotsman', a free Gallery exhibition exploring the rollercoaster career of the iconic locomotive, also opens 25 February and runs until 19 June. 'Stunts Speed and Style' and 'Service with Style' run from 25 March – 8 May 2016. Tickets for 'Service with Style' cost £8.
For more information about Flying Scotsman and the Scotsman Season please visit our season page. For the latest conversations about the return of Flying Scotsman, use or track #FlyingScotsman.