Flying Scotsman tops poll of the world’s best-known trains and locomotives

The Doncaster-built train reached 100mph on a London-to-Leeds run on 30 November 1934

David Higgens
Monday 30 November 2015 01:17
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The Flying Scotsman starting out on its Great North non-stop run from London's Kings Cross station to Edinburgh
The Flying Scotsman starting out on its Great North non-stop run from London's Kings Cross station to Edinburgh

Flying Scotsman has topped a poll of the world’s best-known trains and locomotives.

People across four continents were asked to name five trains or engines they had heard of and the famous green-and-black locomotive topped a league table that also included the Japanese bullet train, India’s Rajadhani Express and the fastest-ever steam locomotive, Mallard.

The National Railway Museum commissioned the worldwide survey, by YouGov, and released the result to coincide with the 81st anniversary of Flying Scotsman being the first locomotive to break the 100mph barrier. The museum is gearing up for the engine’s return to the tracks early next year after a decade-long, £4.2m renovation.

It topped the poll just ahead of the the Rajadhani Express – the pride of the Indian railway network – the Orient Express and the Ghan, Australia’s 1,800 miles pan-continental service.

Other entries in the top 25, which was based on responses from members of the public in UK, United States, India and Australia, included the real and the fictional.

Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express sneaked in at number 25 and Thomas the Tank Engine was at No 11.

And the pioneering Puffing Billy and Stephenson’s Rocket are at 17 and 14, respectively.

The Doncaster-built Flying Scotsman reached 100mph on a London-to-Leeds run, driven by William Sparshatt, on 30 November 1934. The final touches of its restoration are ongoing at the works of Riley & Son Ltd in Bury.

Its inaugural run – from London King’s Cross to York – is planned for February.

The museum’s director Paul Kirkman said: “Along with all our generous supporters for this complex project, we have all been looking forward to the day when Flying Scotsman is once again running on Britain’s tracks.

“Our survey, carried out across four global markets, backs up the claim that it is probably the most famous locomotive and express train service in the world.

“We are thrilled to offer a unique opportunity to experience the essence of Flying Scotsman, first-hand at our museum, through a series of innovative and colourful exhibitions and events”

The heritage minister Tracey Crouch, said: “After a decade of regeneration, the anticipated return of the world-famous and much-loved Flying Scotsman is almost upon us.

“From early 2016 the Scotsman will tour the UK as a working museum exhibit, educating fans of all ages about the wonders of the engineering behind its steam traction.

“This is a wonderful way to tell the story of this iconic and well-travelled locomotive and will ensure that people now and in the future understand why it is such an important part of Great Britain’s heritage.”

The museum is planning a series of exhibitions and events to welcome Flying Scotsman back to steam.

Poll results: Most famous trains

1 Flying Scotsman

2 Rajadhani Express

3 Orient Express

4 The Ghan

5 Shatabdi Express

6 Amtrak

7 Indian Pacific

8 Mallard

9 Duronto Express

10 Bullet Train

11 Thomas the Tank Engine

12 Garib Rath

13 Chennai Express

14 Stephenson’s Rocket

15 Overlander

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