Tourists who forked out for a luxury train trip across the Highlands have been left disappointed after the famous Flying Scotsman was taken out of action following a crash.
The collision involving the 100-year-old Flying Scotsman steam engine and a swanky train at Aviemore sparked a major emergency response, and injured five people.
Two were taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, while others were treated at the scene.
Sources at the scene said the stricken carriage was left “buckled”, and showered in shards of broken glass.
It’s understood the other passengers were taken to the luxury Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire for the night.
The incident happened on Friday evening at around 7.15pm on the Strathspey heritage line, which shares space at the railway station in the Highland village.
It involved the famous Flying Scotsman and the Belmond-operated train, the Royal Scotsman, which offers “luxury tours across Scotland”.
They had been due to make a series of journeys over the weekend, but at least all of Saturday’s have been axed while Sunday trips remain uncertain.
Holidaymakers had come from as far as Canada for the experience…
Family journeyed to Scotland for dream trip
On Saturday morning, the historic steam engine was back in the shed while the carriages remained on the platform.
It’s understood the buffers absorbed most of the impact, but inspections will determine the full extent of any damage .
Rail enthusiast Brian Harrington, who was wearing a Flying Scotsman cap, wife Sue and daughter Emma had travelled 300 miles from North Yorkshire to Aviemore for the trip of a lifetime.
When we met them as they arrived at the north railway station, they were unsure if they’d be able to take to the tracks at all.
Their worst fears were later confirmed.
Brian, 71, said: “We were across the road having a meal when all the blue lights were going off last night.
“We’ve travelled up to travel on the train today, so we were very surprised.”
Trip without Flying Scotsman leaves English holidaymaker crestfallen
Strathspey Steam Railway has since confirmed that all Flying Scotsman journeys this weekend have been scrapped.
If the Royal Scotsman can travel on Sunday, it will instead be towed by a diesel engine.
The rail historians running the jaunts explained that the Flying Scotsman has been taken out of action, while it “awaits inspection”.
Meanwhile, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch told us it is “reviewing available evidence and deciding what further action to take”.
‘We came all the way from Canada for trip on famous Flying Scotsman’
Canadians Donna Carlson, 63, and her husband Eric, 62, were looking forward to a trip on the Flying Scotsman as part of a holiday to the Highlands.
The couple spent a week in Iceland and Northern Ireland before setting their sights on Aviemore to catch the iconic train.
Speaking at the station, Donna said: “We were supposed to travel on the 9am train.
“We’ve come from Canada so this is one of the key things on our trip, we did the whole ‘splash out for the special observation carriage’ deal.
“Its our first trip post-Covid. You can’t predict these things so we are just going to see what the next steps will be.”
Another Canadian, Ken Blackhall,was looking forward to a trip on the train as part of a two-week stint in Scotland with his wife
The Calgary 66-year-old said: “My grandparents came from Stonehaven so that’s why are are taking the trip. We heard about this on the news, and don’t know what to do now.”
Dad’s surprise birthday treat ruined after Flying Scotsman crash
Clint Frank, 52, from the Isle of Man travelled with his wife and his parents for an inaugural trip to the Highlands.
The journey with the Flying Scotsman was a surprise for his dad’s birthday.
Clint said: I’ve got no travel insurance for this so that’s me now the best part of £1,000 out of pocket.
“My parents are over from Australia for a six-week holiday, and we got off the ferry from Isle of Man at Liverpool last night.
“It is a surprise he didn’t even know about. It was a birthday treat as he is a steam engine enthusiast.”
‘My dad was on the Flying Scotsman when he was 15 and he’s 72 now’
The family’s plans had been centred around the Flying Scotsman.
Clint explained: “I booked the tickets for Saturday and thought we would travel straight up to Aviemore, stay there overnight and he won’t know anything about it.
“We got in at 1am and we’ve come down here to get all excited about it. We are going to get a refund and drive back home. You couldn’t write it.
“My dad went on it (the Flying Scotsman) when he was 15 and he’s 72 now. I just thought it was a nice touch.
“When you miss out on what you wanted to do and it costs you £1000, it is sore.”
His dad added: “I like the smell of the sulphur, the steam and the hissing sounds the train makes.”
What happened in Flying Scotsman crash?
The Flying Scotsman was in the process of linking up with carriages of the luxury Royal Scotsman when the “slow speed” crash took place.
Pictures shared on social media showed that scores of expensive bottles of wine had been knocked over on impact.
The Flying Scotsman, a favourite among rail historians, has been stationed in Aviemore this week operating services along the Strathspey Heritage Railway to Boat of Garten and Broomhill.
The Flying Scotsman on the line in question recently:
Historic locomotive and luxury train collide at Aviemore
Eight fire appliances were dispatched to the scene, as the area became a hive of emergency service activity.
Police have confirmed that two people, one passenger and one train crew member, were taken to hospital for treatment, while three more were treated at the scene.
All other passengers transferred to hotel after Flying Scotsman crash
A spokesman for Belmond said a “full investigation” into the incident is now under way.
He said: “Thankfully, there were no major injuries.
“A full investigation is under way, and engineers are on site to conduct detailed damage assessments.
“Our thanks to the Royal Scotsman crew for their swift reactions and attention to the safety and well-being of our passengers; our highest priority.”
The National Railway Museum, the famed York attraction where the Flying Scotsman is based, confirmed that it was “co-operating with investigations” into the incident.
It’s understood that the safety checks taking place this weekend will determine its suitability to be moved.
We can confirm that on Friday 29 September at 18:15, a shunting incident occurred when the Flying Scotsman locomotive was being coupled with Belmond’s Royal Scotsman train carriages, which were stationary on heritage railway line, Strathspey Railway.
Flying Scotsman was…
— National Railway Museum (@RailwayMuseum) September 29, 2023
At the time of the accident, ScotRail said it would be unable to operate services through Aviemore due to the large number of emergency service vehicles near the railway.
However, the station was reopened late on Friday evening, with services now back to normal.
The Flying Scotsman had been due to return to Aberdeen in October. It’s not known whether it will now make the trip.