The route

The East Coast Main Line.


The route of the Flying Scotsman comprises 390 miles (628 kilometres) of the East Coast Main Line, between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley stations.

The East Coast Main Line is the second most important route on Britain’s rail network, and one of the most modern high-speed railways in Britain.

Despite electrification and High Speed Trains, today’s East Coast Main Line remains the legacy of three Victorian railway companies: the Great Northern, the North British and the North Eastern. These three companies built the route of the Flying Scotsman to suit their needs, but it remains an open question if these needs hold good for the 21st century.

The route of the Flying Scotsman is one of the most modern high-speed railways in Britain.

The section between London King's Cross and Doncaster was built by the Great Northern Railway and opened in 1853. The North Eastern Railway built the section between Doncaster and Berwick, but the current route was not opened until 1876. The North British Railway built the line between Berwick and Edinburgh in 1846.

The original station at York was built as a terminus, inside the old city walls. Trains going north or south had to reverse into the station. This inconvenience was removed in 1877 when York's new station opened.

Until 1906 Newcastle was also a terminus, with trains being forced to reverse into the city's main station. However, a new bridge over the River Tyne solved this access problem.

The last realignment of the East Coast Main Line in the 20th century was in 1983, when a 13-mile (21-kilometre) diversion was built around the Selby coalfield. The diversion was built to avoid any possibility of subsidence affecting the tracks running over what was then an active mining area.

British Rail completed the electrification of the East Coast Main Line in 1991, making the route of the Flying Scotsman one of the most modern high-speed railways in Britain. This proved to be British Rail's swan song, as the railways were privatised in 1994.

The current holder of the operating franchise for the route of the Flying Scotsman is Virgin. Network Rail is responsible for maintaining the track, signals and stations.

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