The world’s most famous steam locomotive is on its way to Sleaford – but it will only be a flying visit.
For the first time in nearly 15 years, train enthusiasts will be able to see the Flying Scotsman close-up when it speeds through the area on Saturday, June 18.
The visit will be part of a steam train special called The White Rose, chartered by The Railway Touring Company of King’s Lynn, from London King’s Cross to York and back.
It will be leaving London at around 7am and passing through Lincolnshire on the Great Northern Great Eastern ‘joint line’ between Peterborough and Doncaster, going through Sleaford later that morning. On the return journey from York it will be leaving York around 3.40pm, passing through Sleaford a few hours later.
Interest in The Flying Scotsman has soared since its return to the electrified East Coast Main Line after a ten-year, £4.2 million refurbishment by the National Railway Museum, York.
Crowds of people flocked to see the locomotive during its inaugural journey from London King’s Cross to York in February, with thousands of spectators lining the route.
However, the day was marred in parts by several dangerous acts of trespassing where members of the public were seen walking along the tracks and taking photographs of the locomotive, while other trains continued to pass on lines directly opposite.
All trains on the East Coast Main Line had to be stopped as a result, causing a combined total of over eight hours of delays to 59 train services and costing taxpayer-funded Network Rail almost £60,000 in compensation to train operators.
Chief inspector David Oram from the British Transport Police said: “We understand people are excited about seeing the Flying Scotsman’s return and we want them to have a great day out.
“But the railway is a hazardous environment and we would urge people to use safe vantage points to view and take pictures of the train, while staying clear of the line.
“Our priority is the safety of the public, as well as passengers viewing and travelling on the train.
“The railway is a hazardous environment and we would urge people not to be tempted to risk their lives, and the lives of others, by trespassing on the tracks.
“This is not only extremely dangerous, and can result in the train’s journey being delayed, but it is an offence for which the offender risks being brought before the courts, given a fine of £1,000 and a criminal record.
“Where people are found to be trespassing, we will take proportionate and necessary action against them.”
Phil Hufton, Network Rail managing director, England and Wales said: “While the turnout to see Flying Scotsman so far has shown the passion and support for steam engines, and indeed the railway itself, the images of people stood on the railway taking photographs were deeply concerning and a breach of our safe operations.
“I cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to go onto the railway without any formal training and without permission, as well as being illegal. I am urging those who plan to enjoy seeing Flying Scotsman in the coming days to do so from a safe position and do not go onto the railway under any circumstances. I’d like to thank those who have observed safe practices during the Scotsman’s runs so far and ask others to follow that example.”
Jim Lowe, head of operations at the National Railway Museum, who purchased the iconic locomotive for the Nation in 2004 and restored it to steam through a complex overhaul said: “While we understand interest in our celebrity loco Flying Scotsman will continue to be extremely high, we urge those wishing to view it on its UK tour dates do so from a safe vantage point.
“It is vital that spectators do not venture onto the railway, particularly when it is on the mainline as a full timetable of regular services will be running. In order to avoid overcrowding and incidents of trespass neither ourselves nor our partners will be publishing recommended viewing points or the timetable of when the train will be passing through specific locations – this includes positioning moves.
“We wish those who are taking journeys on trains hauled by the steam icon or going to see it at an event over the coming months an enjoyable experience.”