Rail buffs are in for a treat on Saturday when they will now have four chances to get a close-up view in Preston of Flying Scotsman, the world’s most famous steam locomotive, hauling the seven Pullman carriages of Northern Belle, Britain’s most luxurious train.
The train had originally been scheduled to thunder straight through the city carrying 300 passengers on two slap-up £300-a-head dining excursions to Carnforth.
But last-minute operational changes mean that it will now be pulled by a heritage diesel locomotive from Crewe in the morning and then Manchester in the evening.
Flying Scotsman will then take over on both trains from Preston, steaming through Blackburn, Clitheroe and Settle before returning via the Morecambe Bay line back to the city where it will be replaced by the diesel loco for the last leg of the journeys.
Hundreds of trainspotters and photographers are expected to turn out to see the train but Network Rail and British Transport Police have pleaded with people to stay well away from the tracks.
Northern Belle’s managing director Jeanette Snape said yesterday: “We know this will be a big attraction, the world’s most famous steam engine pulling Britain’s most luxurious train.
“But while we want as many people as possible to see the train and get photographs, we also want everybody to stay safe.
“It is extremely dangerous, as well as illegal, to trespass near the railway tracks. At best people could end up in court being fined £1,000 – at worst they could end up in the mortuary. So please take care and act sensibly.”
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British Transport Police plan to have officers on board to photograph trespassers who put themselves or the train in danger and Chief Inspector Gareth Davies said: “Please remember to use safe vantage points to view and take pictures of the train, stay clear of the line and do not risk serious injury or death by trespassing on the tracks.
“The railway is an extremely hazardous environment and those caught trespassing or obstructing trains can expect to be prosecuted.”
The Northern Belle, seven ornately-decorated 1930s-style Pullman carriages, is Britain’s version of the iconic Orient Express train. Always hauled by a heritage diesel or steam locomotive, it operates luxury excursions from stations all over Britain.
The train will return to Preston twice next month – for a day trip to Llandudno and Conway Castle on Friday August 16 and then to Edinburgh on August 24.
For more details see www.northernbelle.co.uk or phone 01270 899681.
* Flying Scotsman is due to arrive in Preston at 10.47am and then leave steam-hauled at 11.14am, reaching Ribble Junction at 11.15am, Farington Curve at 11.18am and Lostock Hall Junction at 11.21am.
It is then scheduled to arrive back about 2.30pm. In the evening, the timings are arrive 7.34pm, depart 8.08pm, Lostock Hall Jn 8.15pm, arrive back 11.07pm.