One of the UK's biggest ever rail festivals is being planned by the National Railway Museum to celebrate the bicentenary of the train.

Record-breakers and history-makers from all over the country will be arriving in York to mark 200 years of progress since the world's first steam locomotive ran in 1804.

Steam train rides, live theatre and music, traditional funfair attractions, classic film footage and a Great Railway Bazaar are also planned to make it a truly fabulous family festival.

More than 50,000 people are expected to flock to NRM's newly extended Leeman Road site for a nine-day Railfest from 29 May to 6 June 2004.

Awaiting them will be steam icons like Flying Scotsman, the City of Truro, 100 years after its own 100 mph run, Olton Hall, star of the Harry Potter films, and a fully operational replica of Stephenson's Rocket.

There will be demonstrations of the world's only working replica of the very first steam locomotive, Penydarren, along with a chance to admire the UK's most recent rail innovations like the Pendolino tilting train.

Some of the country's rarest narrow and standard gauge locomotives will be offering rides during the festival, including the rarely seen Sutton Collection of 15" gauge trains and Prince, the oldest working narrow-gauge locomotive in the world.

Railway-related groups and businesses from across the country will gather at the Great Railway Bazaar to promote everything from rail tours to transport art. Also on display will be a live steam model layout featuring famous Welsh railway scenes.

"The birth of the railways was a turning point in history and the bicentenary of the very first locomotive presents an ideal opportunity for the nation, and indeed the world, to celebrate 200 years of progress," said Andrew Scott, Head of the National Railway Museum.

"We hope that Railfest will provide a focus for those celebrations with an outstanding family event offering the industry a showcase for their most recent innovations, as well as an entertaining day out for visitors of all ages."

Updated: 12:48 Wednesday, May 19, 2004