Loco's trip back on after Network Rail u-turn
Minister demands answers over Flying Scotsman ‘farce’
Network Rail bosses were accused of bureaucratic bungling after forcing the cancellation of the rebuilt locomotive’s trip on the Borders railway because they had not confirmed that it would fit within structures such as platforms and bridges on the line.
However, following a furious response to the decision led by Scotland’s Transport Minister Derek Mackay Network Rail undertook checks overnight and it will now make the journey through the Borders and across the Forth Bridge as planned.
Events have been organised in Galashiels and Tweedbank to mark the engine’s journey on the Borders Railway which reopened in September.
Mr Mackay said: “I hope that many people will now get to enjoy the experience of Flying Scotsman returning to Fife, Midlothian and the Borders.
“This however does not explain how we ended up in this farcical situation, nor will it comfort the many people who have been looking forward to this day and have had to amend or cancel travel plans at the last minute.
“This is not the end of the matter, I am still committed to seeing a full investigation into the reason why the initial work by Network Rail GB was not completed in time and how it was mishandled so badly.”
Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne offered a “wholehearted and sincere apology” for what had happened. He said: “Engineers and analysts have worked hard to find a way to get the necessary safety checks and engineering assessments done.
“I am pleased to say that we have been successful and are now able to reinstate the original planned tours of Flying Scotsman in Scotland on Sunday.
Steam Dreams, which spent two years planning the £150-a-head trip, had described the late abandonment of the Flying Scotsman’s inclusion in the Scottish leg of the excursion was “an absolute disgrace”.
The steam locomotive, arguably the most famous in the world, arrived at Edinburgh Waverley to huge crowds last night.
It was built in Doncaster in 1923 and made history by becoming the first train to break the 100mph barrier in 1934.
It is now housed at the National Railway Museum in York and a 10-year restoration programme costing £4.2m had just been completed.