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Scotsman loco will return in full steam this year

The historic Flying Scotsman locomotive might return to main line service by the end of this year as part of a £4m restoration project that has lasted over a decade.

Riley & Son Ltd, a Bury-based specialist engineering firm, is now in the final stages of the most complex restoration of a steam locomotive ever undertaken – with its overhaul starting after the engine was brought to York’s National Railway Museum in 2004 for £2.3m.

Now the steam engine is being fitted with necessary equipment to operate on main line railways in an effort to start trials before the end of 2015. This includes fitting a train monitoring recorder and TPWS equipment (the train protection and warning system).

Colin Green, Riley’s co-director, said: “We have come through all the critical milestones for a locomotive restoration and although there is a lot of work still to get through and parts to fit, there is nothing significant standing in the way of Scotsman coming back to steam.”

The locomotive was built in early 1923 after designs by Sir Nigel Gresley. It was originally built in Doncaster for the London and North Eastern Railway, the second largest of the ‘Big Four’ railway companies in the 1920s. A year later, it was renumbered and renamed after the London to Edinburgh daily 10am rail service, selected to appear at the British Empire Exhibition.

The exhibition brought the steam service to fame, and in 1928 it hauled the first ever non-stop London-Edinburgh service with a shorter journey time of eight hours. In 1934, the Scotsman set a new standard for rail locomotives after reaching a speed of 100mph.

After railways were nationalised in 1948, it was renumbered once again and painted Brunswick Green. The National Railway Museum eventually bought the engine in 2004, helped by a £1.8m grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

The loco will now run from London to York and its inaugural main line run will be the opening event for the National Railway Museum’s ‘February Flying Scotsman Season’.

Bob Gwynne, curator of collections and research at the museum, said that it will run from York to London once it has built up the sufficient mileage (1,000 miles).

Riley & Son Ltd will manage the Flying Scotsman’s operations for the first two years of its services in a commercial partnership with the museum. This will include ongoing maintenance reliant on the company’s knowledge of both the Scotsman and steam locomotive upkeep in general.

(Image: c. Phil Sangwell) 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Terry K   21/07/2015 at 12:11

If they are planning runs from London to York after 2018 the engine will need to be fitted with ERTMS because there will be no lineside signals from Wood Green to Peterborough.

Henry Law   21/07/2015 at 13:41

Time to retire the old lady in a place of honour. You could build at least two new ones for £4 million, possibly more.

Richard.Zrh   06/10/2015 at 19:27

"The most complex restoration of a steam locomotive ever undertaken" Surely not. It's definitely taken a long time (and cost a lot) but this was due to mistakes being made in the initial years with work having to be done twice. Complex? In engineering terms, No; but you may have a point if you're writing about the management practices employed on the job. The Duke of Gloucester rebuild was far more complex, owing to much of the valve gear being missing and having languished in salt laden air for more than a decade. Henry Law: you might be a bit on the light side. Tornado cost best part of £5m, so you might get one new A3, but never two, for the £4m.

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