Flying Scotsman trips in 2024

After a successful and busy centenary year in 2023, Flying Scotsman‘s immediate future was unclear at the start of this year. Now we have more news.

Flying Scotsman  is owned by the National Railway Museum (NRM). Up until Dec 2023 when the contract ended, she was operated and maintained by Riley & Son (E) Ltd.

In early December, the NRM issued a rather unrevealing statement saying that they were carefully considering Flying Scotsman‘s future, and will put the care & operation contract out to tender. Meanwhile, since late January she has been on static display at the National Railway Museum in York. She will remain there until an un-specified date in the summer when she will move to the Locomotion museum in Shildon. 

UPDATE 04/06/2024 – We finally have some news on the future of Flying Scotsman… if not firm dates.

A new company has been contracted to manage and maintain Flying Scotsman through to January 2032.

The new custodian is Northern Steam Operations Ltd (NSO), run by Northern Steam Engineering Ltd based in Stockton-on-Tees. They are now responsible for maintenance and day to day operations, as well as provision for a future mechanical overhaul to enable the locomotive to continue operating on the main line rail network.

Under the new contract, NSO will operate frequent, shorter trips to enable more people to access Flying Scotsman without increasing the number of running days.  However her programme has now been severely curtailed. The new contract will see up to 30 days of static display, 15 heritage railway operating days and 20 main line excursion days each year…. which begs the question: what will she be doing on the remaining 300 days a year?

Flying Scotsman‘s next confirmed appearance in 2024 is scheduled, as mentioned above, to be at Locomotion in Shildon over the summer “with dates expected to be confirmed soon”. Let’s hope so. I would have said, it being June, it is already summer! 

I would also expect some news on mainline excursions to break soon. I would be very surprised if the main excursion operators have not already scheduled their autumn trips in anticipation of Flying Scotsman‘s return, so that as soon as they know her availability, they can swap out the previously booked locomotives with Flying Scotsman at short notice. 

UPDATE – 8/03/2024 The search for a new custodian/operator for Flying Scotsman has begun.

The Science Museum Group (National Railway Museum’s parent) has just published an Invitation to Tender (ITT). The successful bidder will be contracted to run Flying Scotsman for 7½ years from 3 June 2024 until 31 January 2032. Tender responses will be evaluated on both price and quality and scored on a series of criteria including previous experience, technical ability, public engagement, staffing, project management and sustainability.

Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum, says: “We will create a public engagement calendar that includes main line excursions, heritage railway visits and display at the National Railway Museum and Locomotion.” However the tender includes an undisclosed limit on annual mileage to ensure a balance between operational requirements and conservation.

So, Flying Scotsman’s excursions programme, which we still expect to start in the autumn, will be markedly less busy than it was last year and in previous years.

As soon as a schedule is published, I’ll post it, with updates, here as usual. 

Flying Scotsman – the historic locomotive

Built in 1923 for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) at Doncaster Works, Flying Scotsman was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley as part of the A1 class – the most powerful locomotives used by the railway. She was quickly used by LNER for their long-distance express services, notably on the long-running (62 yrs) daily 10.00am London to Edinburgh ‘Flying Scotsman’ train service after which she was named.

She still holds two world records: the longest non-stop run at 441 miles (8 Aug 1989 in Australia), and the first steam locomotive officially authenticated at reaching 100 miles per hour (30 Nov 1934 in the UK).

The public’s enthusiasm and interest in Flying Scotsman remains unabated. NRM says that 51,751 people visited the NRM to see her during October half term and more than 37,500 came to see Flying Scotsman in light steam at Locomotion over Christmas. Everyone will be anticipating her return to the main line as soon as possible.

The Flying Scotsman numbers game…

It’s easy to get confused over the identity of the ‘Flying Scotsman’  because she is sometimes referred to by different engine numbers.

When she came out of the Doncaster Works on 24th Feb 1923, she was Engine No. 1472.

Within a year she was re-numbered No. 4472, given the name ‘Flying Scotsman’, and introduced to the public at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition.

Then, in 1948, when the independent rail companies were nationalised and merged into British Railways, ‘Flying Scotsman’  became No. 60103.


Image: Flying Scotsman Flying Scotsman coming into Burntisland, Scotland – Magnus Hagdorn (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

12 Comments

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  1. Thanks for this update, Alastair. I’d be very keen to know if there were to be any trips in September/October 2024.
    Sally, Melbourne Australia.
    March 2024

    Sally Holt / Reply
  2. I would really like to be informed when and if the Flying scotsman is available to ride -many thanks

    yvonne jenkins / Reply
    • It will probably not be until the autumn, Yvonne. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any announcements.

      Alastair / Reply (in reply to yvonne jenkins)
    • I Would like to know when the flying Scotsman steam train will be going to Edinburgh
      Please let me know by email
      Thanks
      Daphne sheldrake

      Daphne Sheldrake / Reply (in reply to yvonne jenkins)
      • Sorry Daphne, No need for an email. There are no scheduled trips to Edinburgh that I am aware of. FS is on static display at the NRM in York till the summer. Maybe later this year there will be some trips, but none have been announced yet.

        Alastair / Reply (in reply to Daphne Sheldrake)
  3. Us the Svotmam stopping over in Scotla d in May so we can go and.see her?? We have family over from Australia

    Vyonne / Reply
    • Hi Vyonne. It’s hard to say where Flying Scotsman will be in May. She’s on static display at the National Railway Museum in York at the moment, and will move to Locomotion at Shildon (https://maps.app.goo.gl/qJu76BXMpH1RTMNEA) in “the summer”. Until there’s a further update, we just don’t know when “the summer” starts.

      Alastair / Reply (in reply to Vyonne)
  4. I am quite surprised that the NRM have not contacted Ian Riley as he saved them when their restoration of Scotsman went seriously wrong and three lorryloads of Scotsman arrived at his loco works at Heywood for him and.his engineers to sort out. Common courtesy seems to have disappeared even withcom 20024 the NRM.

    J Gilbert / Reply
  5. Is the flying scotsman to visit Scotland again if so when and where.

    Chris Brown 🐎 / Reply

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