Four trains, four generations – railway history to be made on tracks near York

In full flight: Flying Scotsman on a trial run near York. Photographs: Nigel Holland
22 Apr 2017 @ 5.27 pm
| History, Transport

Last minute preparations are underway for a railway first.

Four trains from different eras will travel in parallel on four tracks of the East Coast Main Line at Tollerton junction on Sunday (April 23).

The four trains are

  • the world famous Flying Scotsman
  • a Virgin HST (Class 43)
  • a Virgin InterCity225 (Class 91), and
  • the brand new Virgin Azuma (Class 800) which will come into service in 2018.

The four trains will travel side by side, in the same direction, to celebrate the past, present and future of one of the country’s most iconic pieces of railway, the East Coast Main Line.

The timetable

The new Virgin Azuma train. Photograph: Mikael Buck / Virgin Trains
Here’s what will happen on Sunday.

At 6am the four trains begin to travel south together on tracks near the village of Tollerton, ten miles north of York.

They will then head for along the East Coast Main Line.

The trains are due to arrive into York Station at around 8am for a special celebration that will last until around 9am.

A giant screen at York station will broadcast footage of the trains live, and members of the public are advised to head York station.

Safety warning

A Virgin Trains HST. Photograph © Virgin Trains East Coast on Wikipedia

Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the trains as they travel between Tollerton and the station are being urged to stay safe behind boundary fences and keep off both the tracks and private land.

Organisers say: “Trespassers will cause the trains to stop and put at risk the completion of both this event and any future plans to showcase the route and its iconic locos.”

That follows the problems which saw train services delayed after people trespassed on the track to see Flying Scotsman during its inaugural run after its restoration in February 2016.

The organisers of the event are Network Rail, Virgin Trains, Welcome to Yorkshire, the National Railway Museum and Hitachi – which makes the new Azuma.

Speed and style

A Virgin Trains East Coast Intercity 225. Photograph © Virgin Trains East Coast on Wikipedia

Paul Kirkman is director of the National Railway Museum in York which owns Flying Scotsman. He said:

The East Coast Main Line has long been famed for speed and style.

In the 19th century elegant locomotives were designed to haul trains on this route cementing its reputation as a railway racing stretch operated by thoroughbred engines.

The four train line up epitomises the evolution of the later generation of fast, elegant and stylish trains – all with a shared bloodline – that epitomise the history of the route from the 1850s to today.