Leaving the Doncaster Works in South Yorkshire in February 1923 and entering service exactly 100 years ago today (24 February), the Flying Scotsman is synonymous with the golden age of rail travel and is recognized as a feat of design and engineering.

Her achievements include hauling the inaugural non-stop train service from London to Edinburgh in 1928 and becoming the first UK locomotive to reach 100mph six years later.

A century later, it’s hard to imagine Sir Nigel Gresley, the designer of the iconic steam locomotive, being impressed by the unreliable train services that passengers must endure on a daily basis in Manchester and across the North.

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Poet laureate Simon Armitage, who penned a poem as part of efforts to mark the centenary, said the Flying Scotsman was “an emblem of when we could be proud” of railways, adding: “My railway at the moment through Huddersfield is absolutely shameful and chaotic.”

Northern Agenda cartoonist Graeme Bandeira commemorates the centenary of the Flying Scotsman

What to do about TransPennine Express (TPE), the rail operator under fire that runs trains from Huddersfield to Manchester, Leeds, York and the North East, was one of the big topics for political and business leaders at the Northern Transport Summit yesterday in Liverpool.

In the four weeks to February 4 alone, TPE cut 1,048 services due to train staff shortages, far more than any operator. The firm blamed high levels of illness, a driver training program and the lack of a ‘work day off’ agreement where crews work on their days off to fill roster gaps.

Speaking earlier at the conference, the government’s railway minister, Huw Merriman, said TPE’s services were not good enough, but whoever takes over the services “is going to end up in exactly the same situation because the situation is the underlying reform.

He called on the Aslef union to accept the Government’s offer to restore the working day off at TPE, which expired a few months ago and was not renewed, so that drivers can be trained to ensure that fewer trains are canceled in the short term. .


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