Great Britain

Blackburn steam seaside treat on track for summer

EAST Lancashire residents will this summer get the opportunity of a steam-hauled train trip to the seaside.

The Scarborough Spa Express will call at Blackburn five times between July 30 and September 24.

The train, with its restored former British Rail carriages, will be pulled by a diesel engine from Carnforth as far as York before a steam locomotive is coupled up to take it the rest of the way to the East Coast resort.

Passengers will have to wear safety masks on the fortnightly excursions and some seats have be closed off to maintain social distancing aboard the train which would have started running last month but for the coronavirus lockdown.

The historic steam locomotive hauling the train will be one of three.

They are 'Scots Guardsman', the former LMS Royal Scot Class engine which starred in the iconic 1936 black and white film 'Night Mail'; 'British India Line' which once hauled crack Southern Railway expresses including the Bournemouth Belle; and the crimson-painted Jubilee Class 'Alberta' which plied its trade on the Settle and Carlisle line and other LMS routes.

A spokesman for operators West Coast Railways said: “We are chuffed to be getting back on track again after being shunted off into a siding by the pandemic.

"The safety of passengers, crew and local communities remains paramount so we are reducing the number of seats, asking everybody to use hand sanitiser and, of course, passengers must wear safety masks.

“But we are confident that none of the safety measures will detract from people’s enjoyment and it will still be a wonderful day out to Scarborough and we have three very special steam locomotives lined up to work the route."

The first Scarborough Spa Express from Blackburn will depart at 8.39am on July 30 and is scheduled to arrive back at 9.33pm.

Passengers can choose to tuck into breakfast with Buck’s Fizz during the outward journey followed by champagne and a four-course dinner on the way home.

There is also a buffet car serving drinks and snacks.

Return fares start at £69 for adults, £35 for children.

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