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May 6

Fleeting Wonders: Britain’s Most Famous Train Returns

The Flying Scotsman was originally built in 1923, and has several speed and endurance records under its chassis.

The Flying Scotsman this past January, out on a private test run in Bury South Junction.

The Flying Scotsman this past January, out on a private test run in Bury South Junction. (Photo: David Dixon/Geograph CC BY-SA 2.0)

It took 10 years of repairs, $5.2 million, and nearly a whole country’s worth of support, but Britain’s most famous steam locamotive, the Flying Scotsman, is back on the rails. Leaving a plume of steam and excited observers in its wake, the 93-year-old engine traveled from King’s Cross to York this morning with just a few hiccups, BBC News reports.

The Flying Scotsman was originally built in 1923, and has several speed and endurance records under its chassis. It’s named after its most famous route, the 10 A.M. express from London to Edinburgh. After the train was retired from regular service in 1963, it was rescued from the scrap heap several times by wealthy donors, and toured the United States, Canada, and Australia. It was purchased by the National Railway Museum in 2004, and they’ve been getting it up to speed ever since.

The Flying Scotsman in 1983.

The Flying Scotsman in 1983. (Photo: David Ingham/WikiCommons CC BY-SA 2.0)

Today, the steam engine carried 297 passengers, including donors, members of the press, and a driver from the train’s earlier days. They traveled in style: “Sitting on plush velvety seats behind white tablecloths, passengers tucked into their porridge, sipped tea, and quaffed champagne,” describes Digital Journal.

The train huffed into York Station at 1:20 GMT. Despite its long rest, the legendary engine wasn’t quite on time–as Sky News reports, it was forced to stop near Peterborough after enthusiastic trainspotters climbed onto the tracks, and it took the rest of the journey more slowly. Its fans will likely forgive it just this once.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to [email protected].