The National Railway Museum has appointed railway engineering consultancy firm, First Class Partnerships, to provide independent advice on how best to progress the delayed Flying Scotsman restoration project.
The NRM has also set up a working group to look at the future restoration and running of the museum’s heritage locomotives. The NRM acquired the locomotive in 2004 and set out to restore it. However its condition was worse than at first thought and costs have escalated.
The museum’s outgoing director, Steve Davies, and incoming acting director, Paul Kirkman, both remain committed to the restoration. Work on the loco started in January 2006 and was scheduled to last one year and cost around £750,000. The cost of the overhaul has risen to around £2.7 million and it is not yet complete. The report cites several reasons for the delay and increased cost. These include the absence of a detailed investigation either when it was purchased in April 2004 or soon after. This would have highlighted that it was in a much worse state of repair than was believed and identified the serious structural defects that were only recently found.
As a result, a restoration project that was always going to have been complex and taken many years was given an unrealistically short timeframe and budget at the outset. Other major challenges have been faced relating to the project management and engineering expertise.
The report says that the heritage railway engineering sector is ‘a cottage industry’, subject to disruptions caused by staff changes and illness. There have also been conflicts between the need to balance the requirements of the refurbishment programme with the museum’s commitment to enable the locomotive to be seen and enjoyed by the public.
First Class Partnerships can be expected to provide the strategy for a clear and effective way forward. Says Steve Davies, Director of the National Railway Museum, ‘I welcome the report along with its findings and recommendations. The National Railway Museum remains absolutely committed to the restoration of this iconic locomotive and to seeing it running once again on the British mainline.
‘Paul Kirkman, who joined as Acting Director on 5 November, will use the recommendations to guide the final stages of the restoration.’ In 2004, the National Railway Museum bought Flying Scotsman for £2.3 million. The report was written by Bob Meanley, Chief Engineer at Vintage Trains, Birmingham, assisted by Professor Roger Kemp of Lancaster University.