THE most famous steam locomotive in the world will re-launch Mid Hants Railway’s Watercress Line today.

The Flying Scotsman will be the first train to pass through a part of the line which has been closed for a year for repairs.

The record breaking locomotive will travel between Alresford and Alton carrying special guests including actors Sarah Parish and James Murray and broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh on its first ever visit to the heritage steam railway.

Around 300 local schoolchildren will wave flags as The Flying Scotsman passes Butts Bridge near Alton, which has been painstakingly rebuilt.

The works, which closed the line between Medstead and Alton and were completed last month, were originally expected to take nine months but overran due to problems with Victorian foundations.

Detonators will also go off as the train crosses the bridge.

The Flying Scotsman will break a banner as it arrives at Alton Station ahead of passengers disembarking for an opening ceremony, speeches and a plaque unveiling.

The sold out journey on the iconic locomotive will be followed by four further Flying Scotsman running days on Saturday February 29, Sunday March 1, Saturday March 7 and Sunday March 8.

Enthusiasts are encouraged to buy tickets in advance for the events, which are expected to be extremely popular.

Visitors will travel in style through the glorious Hampshire countryside, overlooking the South Downs National Park, on the ten mile line and feel the thrill as Flying Scotsman conquers the 1 in 60 ‘over the Alps’ climb to the summit at Medstead and Four Marks, in each direction.

Bosses at Mid Hants Railway, which runs the line, say the locomotive’s visit will be hugely important in helping to attract more visitors.

The Flying Scotsman was built in 1923 and became the first locomotive to make an 100mph run in 1934.

It was retired from service by British Rail in 1963, underwent a £4.2m refurbishment between 2006 and 2016 and returned to the mainline.

The timetable

Alton: Departs 1pm

Ropley: Departs 1.25pm

Alresford: Arrives 1.33pm and departs 2pm

Ropley: Arrives 2.08pm

Alton: Arrives 2.33pm and departs 2.55pm

Ropley: Departs 3.20pm

Alresford: Arrives 3.28pm and departs 4.05pm

Ropley: Arrives 4.13pm

Alton: 4.38pm arrives and departs at 5pm

Ropley: Departs 5.25pm

Alresford: Arrives 5.33pm and departs 6.10pm

Ropley: Arrives 6.18pm

Alton: Arrives 6.43pm