Operators keep Flying Scotsman's Hampshire tour route secret because of safety fears

The famous Flying Scotsman is to go on a '˜magical mystery tour' in Hampshire - because of safety fears.

Wednesday, 18th May 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th May 2016, 3:15 pm

Rail managers fear that some sightseers might put themselves at risk to get a glance of the iconic locomotive in the county.

And so they are refusing to reveal the route or timings for two sold-out Hampshire Cream Tea tours this month.

Following arrival from Paddington, the train will set off into Hampshire from Salisbury on May 21 and May 28.

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Some details have been released by Steam Dreams, who are involved in the Hampshire events.

They say the train will leave Salisbury at 3pm. ‘We will rush towards the South Coast, where observant ones can catch a glimpse out to Southampton docks and the Solent’ says the company’s website.

‘The train then turns inland and begins heading north, following the River Itchen to Eastleigh before heading back up to Salisbury.’ The Flying Scotsman is scheduled to end its journey at 5.30pm.

Network Rail and British Transport Police are warning those who are planning a visit of the dangers of straying on to the tracks due to the risk of electrocution. Previous open events have seen enthusiasts taking photographs on the railway.

It follows huge disruption in February when the Flying Scotsman returned to the East Coast Main Line after a 10-year, £4.2million refurbishment by the National Railway Museum.

The inaugural journey from London King’s Cross to York was greeted by thousands of people lining the route but the day was marred in parts by several dangerous incidents of trespass – where members of the public were seen walking along the tracks and taking photographs of the locomotive while other trains continued to pass on opposing lines.

A spokesman for the trains owners said: ‘Photographs shared online show crowds of people, including young children, stood in the path of oncoming trains with their view obscured by plumes of steam and smoke from the engine.

‘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 (516 minutes) to 59 train services and costing taxpayer-funded Network Rail almost £60,000 in compensation to train operators.’

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. The risks are high enough on any railway, but on third rail networks there is the added risk of death through electrocution. 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.’

Chief Inspector David Oram from the British Transport Police said: “We understand people are excited about seeing the Flying Scotsman’s return and want them to have a great day out.

‘Our priority is the safety of the public and passengers viewing and travelling on the train. The railway is a hazardous environment and we would urge people to use safe vantage points to view and take pictures of the train, stay clear of the line and not be tempted to risk their lives and the lives of others by trespassing on the tracks.

‘To ensure the safety of those wanting to see the Flying Scotsman we have been in extensive planning discussions with the rail industry. Our aim is that members of the public are able to enjoy these great events by understanding the dangers, being responsible, staying within the law and most importantly - keeping safe.

‘Trespassing on the tracks to view the service 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, 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.”

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.’

The Flying Scotsman will also be making two journeys from London Victoria around the Surrey Hills on Wednesday 25 May and Wednesday 1 June.