HUNDREDS of steam enthusiasts visited York today to greet one of Mallard’s sister locomotives to the city.

Bittern, like Mallard, is an A4 class streamlined Pacific, and was given special permission by Network Rail to travel over the East Coast Main Line at 90 miles per hour, 15mph faster than steam locomotives are usually permitted to go.

Two platforms at York Station were filled with enthusiasts ready with their cameras to capture the arrival.

Retired deputy safety manager for the London Midland region Trevor Bawden, 77, travelled from Tarporley, near Crewe, on Saturday morning to witness Bittern in full steam.

Trevor, who worked for 40 years on the railway, said: “I go around photographing them a lot as a hobby.

“When I started it was all steam with a few electrics, back in 1952, and it’s really nice to see them up in steam again. We have a marvellous preservation system in the UK, we are one of the best in Europe. It’s quite something.”

Tim Morton, 65, is a retired transport consultant, and travelled from London on the Bittern alongside a number of enthusiasts who were monitoring the progress of the train.

He said: “I’m interested in steam locomotive performance, and this morning is the first time in preservation era that steam train has been officially granted to travel at 90mph so that was a big attraction.

“It was brilliant, he achieved 90mph. They put it over the PA after he hit 90, but we all knew, because we had our stopwatches.”

The events came just days ahead of The Great Gathering at the NRM, when Mallard and its five surviving sister A4 locomotives will mark the anniversary of Mallard's record-breaking run of 126mph on the East Coast Main Line at the Great Hall turntable.

The Great Gathering starts on Monday, July 3, at the NRM, and runs until July 17.