THOUSANDS of train enthusiasts shared in some rail history over the weekend as an iconic locomotive returned to the tracks.

After an ambitious ten-year restoration project, the Flying Scotsman was back in motion and a weekend of action began on Friday when it was given its first public run out since the £4.2 million project began.

Dozens of people gathered at the East Lancashire Railway's Bolton Street Station in Bury to witness the historic moment as the locomotive — the pioneer of modern rail travel — arrived onto Platform 3, pulling five carriages.

At the helm were specialist engineers from from Riley and Son, based in Baron Street, Bury, who have been in charge of the painstakingly restoring as part of a deal with the National Railway Museum in York.

The test went well and thousands more train lovers were able to enjoy a ride on carriages pulled by the Flying Scotsman in Bury and Ramsbottom on Saturday and Sunday.

The same service will be in operation this weekend and, though all tickets to ride on the train are sold out, visitors can still turn up at Bolton Street station to see the famous vehicle.

Built in 1923, the locomotive dazzled passengers after its inaugural journey in 1928 as it was the first engine to pull a train faster than 100mph.

It got its name as it would regularly form the 10am service from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley, completing the journey in seven hours and 20 minutes — markedly faster than before.

Colin Green, a co-director of Riley and Son, said that his workers were unfazed by the gathering crowds and media at the station on Friday, but they were nervous for other reasons.

"The first time you come to move a new engine, there will always be an element of nervousness," said Mr Green.

He added: "These kind of projects are something we do all the time, but the staff don't always get the recognition they deserve for their expertise and hard work, so it's nice that they have on this occasion because of the fame of the Flying Scotsman.

"We have people with the company who started out when the project began and they have seen it come all the way through.

"It was a very proud moment for them on Friday and we are pleased that all the tests have gone well. The feedback from passengers over the weekend was glowing."

Peter Stinson, aged 58, of Accrington, was among the first to ride the train hauled by the Flying Scotsman on Saturday.

He said: "It's a piece of rail history, isn't it?.

"This locomotive was the frontrunner in high-speed intercity rail travel and I am very impressed how it looks and runs now.

"For it to be restored in the north is a feather in the cap for the area."

The next step is for the Flying Scotsman to take passengers from Manchester Victoria to Carlisle on January 23.

It will then be repainted in its traditional green livery and will travel from London King's Cross to York in early February.

The plan is for the train to then go into full public service, with rail enthusiasts able to visit an exhibition at the museum.