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Flying Scotsman back on track

WITH 250 passengers on board, paying pounds 350 for the privilege, the world's most famous steam locomotive was back in use yesterday. After a pounds 1m refit, the Flying Scotsman travelled from King's Cross, London, to York. Tony Marchington, the owner of the train, said he could have sold the tickets three times over, such was the enthusiasm for the outing.

He bought the Flying Scotsman in 1996 when the train, which became famous for record-breaking runs on the East Coast main line before the Second World War, was in "a dreadful state". British Rail withdrew it from service in 1963. "I have been a steam enthusiast since I was a boy and when I heard it was for sale, I knew I was the right man for the job," Mr Marchington said.

"Its engine had blown up in 1995 and it had been falling to pieces in a shed. I felt very strongly that a locomotive of this renown and provenance should not be left to rot."

Many of the new parts had to be built from scratch, including pieces for the engine's leaky boiler. The Flying Scotsman will pull excursions from London to various points around the country between now and Christmas. Mr Marchington said he would then decide on the train's future.

"It has been absolutely marvellous travelling on the Flying Scotsman from London to York," he said last night. "It is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life."