Jubilee Class steam locomotive Galatea – a sort of real-life version of James the Red Engine in the Thomas the Tank Engine books that once hauled crack expresses through Yorkshire – will be thundering into Scarborough this summer.
The 83-year-old crimson-painted locomotive is lined up to haul the special Scarborough Spa Express full of day-trippers on the final leg of its journey from York on 10 Thursdays, starting on June 20.
Excited railway enthusiasts and photographers are expected to throng stations along the route to get a glimpse of it coupled up to some of the country’s oldest working passenger carriages still in use.
A spokesman for West Coast Railways, which operates the service, said: “Tickets are already selling fast and they will be in even bigger demand when people hear that Galatea is probably going to pull the train.
“It’s named after a character in Greek mythology and really is one of the country’s favourite steam locomotives.”
The train will operate along two routes on alternate weeks from Carnforth in Lancashire.
On the first, it will pick up passengers at Hellifield, Skipton, Keighley, Shipley, Woodlesford and York.
The second goes via Lancaster, Preston, Blackburn, Hebden Bridge, Brighouse, Wakefield Kirkgate and York.
Both trains will be hauled by a vintage diesel locomotive as far as York, before steam takes over.
West Coast Railways are also running the Dalesman trip which will be steam-hauled from Hellifield to Carlisle, travelling over 20 viaducts and through 20 tunnels on what many people reckon to be the most picturesque train route in the world.
Again the train operates two routes on alternate weeks.
The first starts at York, picking up passengers at Normanton, Wakefield Kirkgate, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds Central and Skipton.
The other starts at Chester, and calls at Frodsham, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Leyland.
The 80-ton Galatea, with its huge 7ft wheels, was a familiar sight in the Yorkshire area for many years, being based at railway sheds in Sheffield and then Holbeck, Leeds.
It would often haul crack trains like The Thames Clyde Express and The Waverley between London and Scotland through Skipton.
British Rail finally withdrew Galatea, then numbered 45699, from service in November 1964 and sold it to a scrapyard in Wales.
But fortunately it was saved by railway enthusiasts and carefully restored before being pressed back into service pulling special excursion trains around Britain.
The Scarborough Spa train has its roots in the London North Eastern Railway Company’s Scarborough Flyer which first ran from the capital to the Yorkshire coastal resort in July 1927.
The express was cancelled in 1939 after the second world war broke out, but was brought back in 1950 and ran as a summer-only train for the next 13 years.
Railway nut Charlie Garth, who travelled on the train last year, said: “It was a wonderful day out chugging through the Yorkshire countryside behind a clanking, wheezing and hissing steam train.
“Everybody hates the commuter rail journey to work, but there’s something magical about a steam train.
“You’re immediately transported back .to the golden days of rail travel.
“It’s an adventure.
“I reckon they should rename the train ‘The Nostalgia Express’!”
Fares on the two trains start at £39 return for adults, and £15 for children in standard class. First class fares start at £59 for adults, £30 for children.
Premier dining, which includes a full English breakfast on the outward journey and a slap-up dinner on the way home, costs from £219.
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