ONE of the icons of the golden years of the railways is expected to be back on the rails by the summer of next year.
The uncertainty over the complex restoration of the Flying Scotsman has now been overcome and the troubled project is to continue.
The National Railway Museum in York acquired the loco in 2004 at a cost of £2.3m and when restoration began in 2006 it was estimated the work would cost about £750,000.
But by March last year that figure had escalated to £2.89m with further extensive work still to be completed and fears were raised the project could grind to a halt.
In October last year the museum announced that the remaining works on the loco, including the alignment of the middle steam cylinder, would take place at Riley and Son (E) Ltd, Bury.
But they warned of an unknown element that could make the project hit the buffers – a small section of the main side frames that could not be examined until the steam cylinders were removed.
The condition is now known and extensive testing confirmed there were no significant problems with the frames, although it revealed some limited issues with the condition of the cylinders.
And a final assessment of the viability of the restoration has now been made by the museum and its trustees – who have given the work a resounding go-ahead.
Now it is hoped that the 1920s locomotive, the sole survivor of the A3 class, will be fit to operate within the stringent requirements of the modern railway network by summer 2015.
Director of Riley and Son Ian Riley said: “The frame condition has been found to be acceptable, and while the cylinders still need a lot of attention these are relatively straightforward problems which can be readily fixed by our specialist engineers.
“We are delighted that the restoration is going to plan and we will continue to work together with the museum to see the restoration through to completion and its first two years of operation.”
Museum director Paul Kirkman added: “We are now progressing full steam ahead towards completing the restoration.”
The remaining works include the alignment of the middle steam cylinder. All three steam cylinders are also currently oversize and need to be fitted with new liners and rebored to an appropriate diameter.