In typical British rail fashion it was running late, but for the masses on Platform 4 of Peterborough Station eagerly waiting for the famous Flying Scotsman to pass by, it was well worth the wait.
After all, when you have waited 10 years for the Flying Scotsman to come through Peterborough, another 30 minutes is not going to make much difference.
And for dozens of train enthusiasts with cameras at the ready, they were greeted with a wave from former Conservative MP and noted rail enthusiast Michael Portillo as the iconic locomotive made a brief stop-off at the station shortly after 10am today (Thursday, February 25).
Ryan Peach (23) from Crowland was one of many people to leave the station this morning with a smile on his face.
He said: “It was just breathtaking, I had a tear in my eye. It was just amazing.”
Michael Sly (47) from Thorney had the Flying Scotsman as his first ever train set when he was a child, and he was in no doubt that the £4 million spent to get it back in top shape was money well invested.
He said: “It certainly brings the inner child out. It was amazing. It’s a beautiful restoration.”
The Flying Scotsman’s journey was delayed after Network Rail said it had had to “stop all trains” on the East Coast Mainline - including the world famous steam locomotive - because of “a huge number of trespassers” keen to get a look at it.
But the delay did not appear to perturb passengers making the journey from London King’s Cross to York as they popped their heads out the windows and jovially waved and spoke to onlookers, while others on board were seen with empty plates and glasses as they enjoyed the hospitality.
Pete Boswell (64) who lives in Lincoln was one of many people standing on the platform to see the Flying Scotsman pass by. He said: “I’m a railway enthusiast, I like to see steam engines. I saw the Flying Scotsman when I was a young boy in Doncaster in 1960 and I saw it in Lincoln 10 years ago.
“It’s an iconic locomotive to see on its inaugural ron on the East Coast Mainline. It’s something I could not miss.”
Janet Wardle, who lives at Friday Bridge, near Wisbech, has enjoyed a long association with trains. She said: “I used to be a train spotter.
“They used to have a bridge over the railway in March and as a nine and 10-year-old I would sit on the bridge all day and train spot.
“My dad worked on the station so I was brought up with trains, and the smoke and the smell - oh it’s lovely.”
The Flying Scotsman had passed through Peterborough yesterday as well for a test run before today’s historic journey which was its inaugural journey after a decade-long £4.2 million refit.
Some 297 VIPs, fundraisers, competition winners and members of the public who had paid up to £450 were on board for the day, and hundreds of people who had arrived from 6am to secure a vantage point on platform one at London King’s Cross were covered in steam as the journey began.
Built in Doncaster in 1923, the Flying Scotsman soon became the star locomotive of the British railway system, pulling the first train to break the 100mph barrier in 1934.
It has been painted in the traditional early 1960s British Rail green for its first official outing bearing its nameplates after the restoration project.
Mr Portillo said he was “very excited” to be travelling on the train as part of filming for BBC documentary series Great British Railway Journeys.
“This is certainly the most famous journey and most famous locomotive in Britain,” he said.
“It’s absolutely wonderful that it’s able to run today from London to York. We’ve got a very excited bunch of passengers. We’ve got a whole lot of history.”
He described the Flying Scotsman as “an engineering triumph” and praised its designer, Sir Nigel Gresley, for having “an eye for engineering, for design, for style and for marketing”.
The National Railway Museum (NRM) in York bought the locomotive for £2.3 million in 2004 before work got under way on its restoration in 2006.
After leaving Peterborough today the Flying Scotsman continued its way up north, but anyone disappointed to have missed its visit should put June 18 in the diary as it will come through Peterborough again on its way back to London.