Steam boiler of 'Swiss Flying Scotsman' to get makeover in north Norfolk

The team at the North Norfolk Railway's Weybourne, with the Rhaetia boiler just after its arrival. From left: Ben Sharred,

The team at the North Norfolk Railway's Weybourne, with the Rhaetia boiler just after its arrival. Pictured are, from left, (first name omitted), Mike Fuller, Steve Latham, Peter Phillips, Keith Ashford, Tom Osborn, Kieran Cator. - Credit: Steve Allen

It has pulled trainloads of people around Switzerland's mountains and valleys for more than a century, so it's no wonder it needs a makeover. 

And the boiler of one of the Alpine country's most famous steam locomotives is now to be brought into working order again - in Norfolk. 

The team at the North Norfolk Railway's (NNR) Weybourne workshop are thrilled to have won a tender to restore the key part of Rhätia, a 1000mm-gauge locomotive built in 1889 in the Swiss city of Winterthur. 

The Rhatia's last time in action was during 125th anniversary celebrations for the Swiss Rhaetian Railway in 2014.

The Rhatia's last time in action was during 125th anniversary celebrations for the Swiss Rhaetian Railway in 2014. - Credit: Supplied by the NNR

The locomotive is operated by the Rhaetian Railway (Rhätische Bahn), which operates Switzerland's largest private railway network. 

Keith Ashford, the railway's chief mechanical engineer, said the Rhätia was held in as high regard in Switzerland as the Flying Scotsman was over here, so being chosen to carry out the restoration was an honour. 

Mr Ashford said: "We recognise the enormous significance and affection with which this locomotive is held in Switzerland, and it will be a privilege for our engineering team to be involved in the overhaul of this boiler.

"It also reflects well that Swiss Railway Services (SRS) who are acting as the technical advisers to Rhatische Bahn recognised that the necessary skills required to undertake this type of boiler repair work exist in the UK."

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Hugh Harkett, the NNR's managing director, added: "This demonstrates the continued international focus that has been a mainstay of our business here in Norfolk with a number of contracts now in house from the continent of Europe."

Work is planned to begin in the New Year. The expired copper inner firebox will be carefully dismantled and removed and a thorough internal inspection will be carried out to verify the full extent of the work required.

Mike Ellis, owner of SRS, said: "Our role in this project is to match our customer, the RhB [Rhaetian Railway], with the best available supplier and track progress and quality, ensuring the project’s success.

"The NNR has demonstrated that our choice is well-founded and that Rhätia is in good hands.

"In Switzerland there is much emotion connected to this project and that makes it just that little bit special for the team to work on."

Rhätia has been out of service since 2014, but this project will restore it to service. 

The Swiss railway's steam friends group and club raised 940,000 Swiss francs - £765,000 - to fund the overhaul. 

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