The romance of the bygone steam engine era returned to London on Thursday morning as the iconic Flying Scotsman returned to the tracks for a run to York after a 10-year refit that cost more than £4 million.
Thousands of steam engine buffs cheered as it went full steam ahead from King’s Cross station, with many more lined up along the tracks, while helicopters above recorded its journey. Built in 1923, it was the first locomotive to reach the speed of 100 miles an hour.
Last November, the Flying Scotsman beat India’s Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express in a global survey of iconic railways conducted by the National Railway Museum (NRM), York, where it will remain for public viewing before going on a tour across Britain later this year.
The Flying Scotsman became famous after it was selected to appear at the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley in 1924. It was the first to run a non-stop London to Edinburgh service, and clocked 100 miles an hour in a special run in 1934. It was retired in 1963.
Hundreds of people posted videos and photos of the Flying Scotsman making its way – and being overtaken by modern fast trains – through the countryside to York. The enthusiasm prompted safety warnings.
NRM and Network Rail urged fans to view the locomotive “from a safe vantage point”. In a joint statement, they said: “It is vital that spectators do not venture on to the railway as a full timetable of regular services will be running.”
They added, “In order to avoid overcrowding we are not publishing recommended viewing points or the timetable of when the train will be passing through specific locations. We wish those who are boarding Flying Scotsman …an enjoyable experience.”