In a recent YouGov poll conducted by the The National Railway Museum which asked people across four continents to name five trains or engines off the tops of their head, the results were intriguing.
The train at the top of the list wasn’t the Rajadhani Express, Orient Express or Australia’s Ghan. It certainly wasn’t the fictional Hogwart’s Express or even Thomas the Tank. It turns out the world’s best-known train is The Flying Scotsman.
Trailed by billowing clouds of vapour, announcing its arrival with a piercing whistle, nothing beats the romance of a vintage steam locomotive. But what is it about this particular one that has so captured the public imagination?
FACT: Flying Scotsman is the name of the locomotive. The Flying Scotsman refers to train service which has been running between London and Scotland since 1862 – it’s not a train unless the engine is pulling carriages.
Maybe it’s because it echoes back to a far simpler, refined age of British travel. Or perhaps it’s the engineering? Propelled by a powerful cocktail of coal, fire and water, and capable of more than 100mph – faster than many modern British train services – it’s certainly a far more exciting mode of transport than the diesel fuelled vehicles of today.
And glamorous too. Back in the day it transported carriages containing a hairdressing salon and restaurant. It was – and still is – without a doubt the chicest way of travelling back and forth between London and Edinburgh.
Following a meticulous decade-long restoration, the 1923 locomotive is in the midst of a two-year tour of Britain as a working museum exhibit, and happily for us, is returning to Edinburgh for a four-day Scottish homecoming event!
On 14 May, The Flying Scotsman will follow its original route from London to Edinburgh via York. Those lucky enough to have snapped up tickets will have the choice of two rail excursions come 15 May – the first to Tweedbank railway station on the recently opened Borders Railway, and the second over the magnificent Forth Bridge just as the sun is setting.
As mentioned, tickets are now sold-out. But you can still welcome it from the platforms of stations along the routes and the walkway of the Forth Road Bridge.
Contact the booking office at Steam Dreams on 01483 209888 to be added to the waiting list.
Fancy exploring the country by rail yourself this summer? Get the low-down on getting around Scotland by train and discover the iconic rail journeys you can take with the Spirit of Scotland Travelpass.
Are you one of the passengers travelling aboard the Flying Scotsman this summer? Or maybe you’ll be among the well-wishers and trainspotters cheering it along its homecoming journey. However you get to experience this icon of steam, share it with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to show your #ScotSpirit loud and proud.