Paul Kirkman, Director of the National Railway Museum, provides an update on the restoration of Flying Scotsman.
Recently publishing the final cost of the restoration of Flying Scotsman, it has quite rightly provoked some interest. It cost a lot of money. So we think it is worth putting on the record how proud we are at the National Railway Museum to have finally returned this greatest of locomotives to operation, bringing an icon of British engineering back to the people.
Some have said the restoration has been too expensive and questioned how we could ever have spent so much. We have been quite open about the shortcomings of the management of project, for example in the published report by Bob Meanley We looked to learn our lessons and certainly do not claim everything has gone perfectly.
That said, it is impossible to speculate what the minimum cost for the restoration might have been in a perfect world. As those involved with heritage railways will know, all these projects are different and we could trade good and bad examples forever. When it comes to value for money, what is clear is that it cost a lot of money, but the value has been extraordinary. That is why we said it has been eminently worthwhile when we announced the final cost.
People have said that we could have better spent the money on other things. But life isn’t that simple. Exciting projects attract money that wouldn’t be there otherwise. The £2.3 million purchase price of the locomotive came from external funds with £1.8 million coming from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, £441k from public donations to the museum and £365k match funding from Virgin Group.
Over £1.8 million of the cost of the £4.5million restoration cost came from external funders, public donations and the sale of Flying Scotsman merchandise. This includes a £275k grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. And because we are part of the bigger Science Museum Group, the Trustees of the group made extra resources available to the National Railway Museum for the restoration project: it hasn’t come from the normal annual budgets of the museum.
The locomotive is now operating fantastically well with the Riley’s team in charge. That arrangement is in place until the end of next year. At the right time we will consider options for taking this forward and will make an announcement next year. We are committed to creating a robust and effective long term future business model covering all aspects of Flying Scotsman maintenance and operation.
At NRM we’re proud to have put Flying Scotsman back on the rails to the clear delight of so many and passionately feel it was a worthy and ultimately positive investment.