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A visit to Scotland by the steam locomotive Flying Scotsman will not go ahead as planned after a last-minute decision by Network Rail.
The track operator said it had not been able to carry out assessment work on some lines in time for the tour, which organisers said has been in the planning for more than a year.
Flying Scotsman will operate between York and Edinburgh Waverley on Saturday as scheduled, but a vintage diesel engine is expected to take over for Sunday’s trip, which was to see it run on the new Borders Railway to Tweedbank and across the Forth Bridge. The decision will disappoint hundreds of rail enthusiasts expected to turn out to see the recently refurbished steam engine.
Excursion operators Steam Dreams said: “Network Rail has known about these trips for months and they have left this gauging until the last minute. It means there is absolutely no time to plan anything else for the locomotive so we can give passengers in Scotland a trip behind this icon.”
Flying Scotsman's schedule to be kept secret to deter trainspotters on the line
Built in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in 1923, Flying Scotsman became the first steam loco to officially break the 100mph barrier in 1934. The National Railway Museum in York bought the loco for £2.3m in 2004 before work got under way on its decade-long restoration two years later.
Network Rail was forced to pay out almost £60,000 in compensation when dozens of train services were delayed by people encroaching on the track during the refurbished train’s inaugural run from London to York on 2 February.
A spokesman for the operator said: “The routes the Scotsman had planned to cover this weekend are new ones for the locomotive and have to be individually assessed by our engineers in advance.
“Unfortunately we have been unable to carry out the work in time and cannot allow the engine to run when we are unsure if the unique design of the Flying Scotsman is compatible with the current railway infrastructure across the Fife and Borders routes.
“We understand the disappointment this will cause all those who had been looking forward to the iconic engine returning to these parts of Scotland and a full investigation will be undertaken into why these issues were not identified sooner.”
Flying Scotsman will be displayed at the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway on Monday as planned, with an extra day on Sunday.
This article first appeared on www.theguardian.com
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