One of the world’s most famous steam locomotives is on its way “home”.
The Yorkshire-born Flying Scotsman (seen above as it arrives platform three of the East Lancashire Railway's station at Bolton Street in Bury) has set off on its inaugural run from London to York after a decade-long, £4.2 million refit.
Thousands of steam enthusiasts are lining tracks and bridges as Flying Scotsman makes the journey up the East Coast Main Line.
Crowds of people who had secured a vantage point on platform one at London King’s Cross were covered in steam as the journey began.
Some 297 VIPs, fundraisers, competition winners and ticket-buying members of the public are onboard for the five-hour trip.
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Flying Scotsman has been painted in the traditional early 1960s British Rail green for its first official outing bearing its nameplates after the restoration project.
Built in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in 1923, it soon became the star locomotive of the British railway system, pulling the first train to break the 100mph barrier in 1934.
The National Railway Museum (NRM) in York bought the locomotive for £2.3 million in 2004 before work got under way on its restoration in 2006.
Flying Scotsman will be kept at the NRM until March 6 before embarking on a tour around the country.
Michael Portillo said he was “very excited” to be travelling on the train as part of filming for BBC documentary series Great British Railway Journeys.
He said: “This is certainly the most famous journey and most famous locomotive in Britain.
“It’s absolutely wonderful that it’s able to run today from London to York. We’ve got a very excited bunch of passengers. We’ve got a whole lot of history.”
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Asked why Flying Scotsman was so popular, he replied: “Partly it’s because it was an engineering triumph. It was a big locomotive, it was powerful and it reached 100 miles per hour.
“And partly because of the extraordinarily successful marketing in the 1920s onwards so Flying Scotsman became entirely iconic.”
Mr Portillo said Sir Nigel Gresley, who designed the locomotive, had “an eye for engineering, for design, for style and for marketing”.