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Most Famous British Trains

Wednesday 13 March 2024

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Britain is steeped in locomotive history. For well over a century, people have been hopping aboard trains to get from A to B in style and comfort. Since train travel has been an integral part of our lives for so long, certain trains and train journeys have gathered steam for several reasons and sometimes, it is more about the journey than the destination. Ranging from iconic appearances in film and television to historical relevance, these are the most famous British trains.

The Jacobite Train

One of the most famous trains the world over due to its appearances in the Harry Potter series, the Jacobite train rolls through 41 miles of unspoilt Scottish Highlands. The route starts in Fort William and takes just over two hours to arrive at its destination of Mallaig. You’ll feel as if you’re heading to Hogwarts when aboard the Jacobite, passing famous landmarks such as Ben Nevis and Loch Morar across the grand Glenfinnan Viaduct. 

As it runs for six months of the year, from April through to October, you are more likely to see these natural sites in all their glory owing to the better weather. This journey is hugely popular with tourists from all over the globe due to its role in the Harry Potter films, so it is important to book as far in advance as possible!

West Somerset Railway

The West Somerset Railway has the claim to fame of being the longest heritage railway in England. With ten stations in twenty miles, there is plenty to explore at each stop along the way. While the train meanders through the rolling Quantock Hills and along the bucolic coastline, passengers will frequently be reminded of the spectacular scenery Southwestern England has to offer.

There hasn’t been a better time to book your ticket for this journey. A wide variety of events are being held throughout the year including a special 150th anniversary event celebrating the opening of the line between Watchet and Minehead, so don’t miss out on these festivities.

The Flying Scotsman on a railway in the wood

North Yorkshire Railway

North Yorkshire has everything a tourist could want from a getaway in Rural Britain, and the North Yorkshire Railway provides a unique way to experience this area of the UK. If you’re a train lover, the North Yorkshire Railway route is also not far from the National Railway Museum based in York. Little of the scenery has changed along this railway route since it first started in 1836, making it a popular choice for many periodic film and television projects, such as Downton Abbey and Harry Potter. 

The spectacular scenery is best enjoyed from the comfort of the Pullman Dining train. This mobile dining experience offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to enjoy a delicious three course meal as the vast and rugged Yorkshire Moors hurtle past the window. 

The Scarborough Spa Express

Originally named The Scarborough Flyer, the steam train ran for thirteen years as a ‘Summer only’ express, shuttling passengers to the charming seaside town of Scarborough. In 1981, the first Scarborough Spa Express ran once again and now, the delightful red steam train hauls happy holiday-goers coast to coast throughout summer.

The vintage locomotive traverses the beautiful Lancashire and Yorkshire landscape, from Carnforth to York or Scarborough, via Skipton and Leeds. Whilst sitting in some of the oldest train carriages still in operation, passengers can behold the spectacular views of the Northern countryside, tuck into a hearty full English breakfast or, perhaps, enjoy a railway-inspired book.

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman has to be included, arguably being the most famous British train on this list. The train has been part of several landmark events throughout railway history. It was the first train providing a service from London to Edinburgh, which is how it got its iconic name. It was also the first train to break the 100mph barrier in 1934. This iconic steam locomotive was ahead of its time and has been held in high regard ever since it retired in 1963. 

Following its retirement, The Flying Scotsman even ventured overseas for passengers in the USA and Australia to have the chance to jump aboard the steam train. After several different ownerships, the National Railway Museum now ensures it is now recognised as a national treasure. You can still catch a glimpse of the Flying Scotsman in all its glory at the museum and it recently celebrated its 100th birthday which included a number of exciting events. 

If you’re planning to explore Britain’s world-famous railways, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or the CrossCountry app. If you need more information, you can contact us here.

Written by Julia

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