South Scotland

Flying Scotsman Borders trip cancelled

Flying Scotsman

Plans to run the newly-rebuilt Flying Scotsman steam locomotive on the Borders rail line have been stopped at the last minute by Network Rail.

Steam Dreams, which will operate the excursion, said the late notice cancellation - at 16:40 on Friday - was "an absolute disgrace".

The Flying Scotsman will operate between York and Edinburgh, before a diesel engine is expected to take over.

Steam Dreams said the trip has taken two years of planning.

It said Network Rail's explanation was that it did not have the right data to "gauge" the Flying Scotsman - a process which involves checking if the locomotive fits within structures such as platforms and bridges on the line.

A planned journey across the Forth Bridge has also been cancelled.

Steam Dreams chairman Marcus Robertson said: "For the passengers but also for all the people who've put in months and years of planning work to get the engine in the state it's in... they haven't put a foot wrong."

He added: "All that work, all that effort, all the dreams of the passengers, has been wasted by a bit of bureaucratic inefficiency or, as it's being described apparently by somebody at Network Rail, an 'administrative error'.

"Well that's a pretty mealy-mouthed way of putting it."

A letter from the company to intending passengers said: "During the next 24 hours we will be doing our utmost to get this situation sorted out, but if we can't then we very much regret that we will have to run this trip with vintage diesel locomotive.

"If this is the case than we will do our utmost to make it a highly memorable day on a vintage train."

Network Rail said it had not been able to carry out assessment work on the route in time.

A spokesman 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."

'Unbelievable' failure

A number of events had been planned along the route to mark the Flying Scotsman' return to Scotland.

A decision is now expected on Saturday about which of them will go ahead.

Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker said: "It is extremely disappointing that the Flying Scotsman's visit to the Scottish Borders cannot go ahead as planned on Sunday.

"A huge amount of work has gone into the planning of this event, and we know this news will leave thousands of people very unhappy and let down.

"Network Rail's failure to complete the necessary work is quite frankly unbelievable and unacceptable. Only discovering the position this evening makes the news even more shocking."

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