TRAIN lovers gathered in excitement today as one of the world’s most famous steam trains pulled in.

The Flying Scotsman left train enthusiasts in awe on its first day of a seven-day run on the Bluebell Railway, which runs between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead.

Train lovers travelled from near and far to see the great train up close and ride behind it.

Jack Hodgson, 16, from Woking, said: “It is iconic and it is amazing we are going to be riding behind such a famous steam engine.

“On the day the tickets came out I was all ready to come and get one.

"It was in February we bought them, so it's the big day now.”

Andrew Etheridge, 41, from Kemptown, said it was a great day.

He said: “It was really good  - everyone was really excited.

“I’ve always liked the Flying Scotsman and always wanted to go in it so we came especially to go on it today.”

Around 8,500 people have booked tickets to travel in carriages behind the 94-year-old locomotive over the seven days.

Its name comes from the British Empire Exhibition in 1924 when it was renumbered 1924 and called Flying Scotsman.

Driving the train yesterday morning was Chris Hunford, a volunteer driver at Bluebell for ten years.

The 36-year-old from Crowborough said it was a privilege to be in charge of the locomotive.

He said: “It’s a brilliant locomotive and its rides like a coach - it’s very smooth riding.

"It was a privilege to be the driver this morning.”

The locomotive, owned by the National Railway Museum, re-entered service last year and was brought to the Bluebell Railway after winning a bid to host it.

The Bluebell is home to the largest collection of steam locomotives outside of the National Railway Museum.

Bluebell Railway communications director Roger Garman hopes visitors who came for the allure of Flying Scotmans will now return to the railway.

He said: “It is the icing on the cake for our Easter break.

"We have a week playing host to this iconic locomotive and it's an opportunity to bring people to the railway who probably wouldn’t have otherwise come.

“It gives us an opportunity to showcase the railway to a wider audience and hopefully encourage them to come back and see us again.”

The train will run on the Bluebell Railway until April 19.

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