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  1. ITV Report

Steam engine to return to mainline network

The Clun Castle (Vintage Trains Ltd/PA)

A record breaking steam engine is to return to the mainline rail network.

The owner of the 7029 Clun Castle, Vintage Trains Ltd, has been awarded a licence to operate scheduled services by the Office of Rail and Road.

Trial services will begin by the end of the year, leading to regular timetabled runs between Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham Snow Hill.

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The company eventually wants to expand across the country, to serve destinations such as London, York and Chester.

A public share issue has raised more than £850,000 but the aim is to reach £3 million to secure the “enjoyment of steam for years and generations to come”.

Swindon, the birthplace of the Great Western Railway locomotives Credit: PA

Clun Castle was built at the former Great Western Railway works at Swindon in 1950.

In 1964 it broke the record for the fastest steam-hauled train from Plymouth to Bristol.

Vintage Trains Ltd managing director Cath Bellamy said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have now been awarded our licence, which represents a major achievement.

“Without fail, steam travel brings a smile to people’s faces and I really can’t wait to introduce it to new passengers of all ages and backgrounds throughout the country.”