Published on : Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Flying Scotsman returned to the East Coast Main Line, an electrified line, after a 10-year, £4.2million refurbishment by the National Railway Museum in February with an inaugural journey from London King’s Cross to York which was greeted by thousands of people lining the route.
However, 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.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.
Flying Scotsman tours the UK throughout the summer, with tours from London starting on Saturday 21 May and Saturday 28 May when it makes return journeys from London Paddington to Salisbury and Hampshire. It will also be making two journeys from London Victoria around the Surrey Hills on Wednesday 25 May and Wednesday 1 June.
Network Rail, the British Transport Police and other industry partners are warning those who are planning a visit of the dangers of straying onto the tracks, in particular due to the added risk of electrocution on third rail networks. These routes are powered by electricity via a third rail DC electrical system. The third rail, the conductor rail, is located to the side of the railway tracks and cannot be switched off due to the large number of other trains using the network.
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.