ScotRail chose the Highlands to launch its first-ever steam trains this week, with three services offering romantic journeys through some of Scotland’s finest scenery.
The steam services on Saturday, Sunday and Monday all departed or arrived in Inverness – and were hauled by the No 60163 Tornado, the newest steam locomotive on Britain’s main line railways.
The trains proved a big hit with families, tourists, couples and train enthusiasts, with hundreds of people snapping up tickets. And many local people took the opportunity to take photographs of the trains steaming along the line.
The Tornado made the following journeys:
‘The Highland Rambler’ - Stirling to Inverness via Perth and Kingussie, on Saturday 20 June
‘The Seaforth Highlander’ - Inverness to Dunrobin and Brora and back again, on Sunday 21 June
‘The Highland Caledonian’ - Inverness to Stirling via Kingussie and Perth, on Monday 22 June
Throughout each of the journeys, ScotRail scheduled extended stops at scenic stations - including Aviemore, Invergordon and Kingussie - to allow people time to stretch their legs and take in the sights.
Sunday’s journey to Dunrobin and Brora was the first time the Tornado – one of Britain’s most popular steam locomotives – has ventured north of Inverness, making it the most powerful steam locomotive ever to do so.
Nesta Gilliland, ScotRail’s head of marketing, said: “It has been really pleasing to see such high demand for our first-ever steam trains.
“They have really caught the imagination of customers, excited by the thought of embarking on romantic steam journeys through the Highlands.
“It’s been a great opportunity to showcase Scotland’s best rail lines and landscapes to a new audience.”
Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, said: “It’s been fantastic to see these iconic trains back in operation, allowing so many people the opportunity to appreciate Scotland’s countryside and railways from a unique and very special point of view.
“The steam timetable allows rail enthusiasts the opportunity to relive the golden age of steam travel.”