They are vehicles from a bygone age, evoking memories of Brief Encounter and The Railway Children.
But the Press and Journal can reveal that steam trains will return to Aberdeen next summer.
In recent years, the line between the city and the south has been restricted by the inability of trains to make round trips.
The Ferryhill Railway Heritage Trust has however been working closely with Network Rail to investigate the viability of launching ‘steam specials’ from as far afield as the south of England to the Granite City.
And the FRHT revealed yesterday the services will operate from 2019 onwards following the installation of an £86,000 turntable at Ferryhill.
The trains of yesteryear have become an increasingly popular attraction on routes on the west coast and into Dundee – not the least The Jacobite, which travels to Mallaig via the Glenfinnan viaduct – attracting thousands of passengers and onlookers in the process.
It’s hoped the return of steam to Aberdeen will have a similar impact, with supporters united in the belief it could bring a major tourism boost.
Trust spokesman Gordon Simpson said: “This is very exciting news and it is something we have been working towards for many years.
“The turntable is back where it should be and, although we are currently locked from the main line run by Network Rail, we expect that situation to change next year.
“I think it could be the start of a bright new future and one that has a significant impact on the whole of the north east.
“When you think of all the cruise ships that are going to be arriving in the new Aberdeen Harbour, it makes perfect sense to have new tourist attractions ready for visitors.”
It is understood the turntable has still to pass a final load test, while parts of the track need to be upgrade, but it’s not believed these issues will cause major delays.
The idea has been welcomed by business groups and politicians, including Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.
He said: “The recently-unveiled tourism strategy for the region highlights the importance of year-round visitor attractions that make the most of our stunning landscape and unique heritage.
“Connectivity is also important and this project has the potential to combine both, adding weight to ongoing wider efforts to achieve a renaissance for our region.”
Councillor Ross Grant, Aberdeen City Council’s transport spokesman, added: “The prospect of a seeing steam engines once again return on the Ferryhill line is very exciting.
“As an administration, we have been proud to provide support towards the fantastic work done by the Ferryhill Railway Heritage Trust.
“It is inspiring to hear about work to bring an age-old form of transport from a golden age back to the north east.”
The proposal to restore steam train services to Aberdeen has been backed by the company which owns the track throughout Britain.
A Network Rail spokesman told the Press and Journal yesterday: “We are supportive of the plans to rejoin the turntable at Ferryhill to Network Rail infrastructure and for it to be able to be used by steam trains.
“Steam charters are an important part of our heritage and they provide a significant contribution to tourism.”
The firm has offered assistance to the Ferryhill Rail Heritage Trust in recent years and has backed the re-introduction of steam journeys where they can be fitted into existing timetables.
The spokesman added that such trips already happened in several parts of the country, most notably in the north of England.
It’s believed the Tornado vehicle, which was created in Doncaster, could be the train which takes part in the 2019 services.