FURIOUS train enthusiasts who helped to make it possible for the Flying Scotsman to make its home at the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York, say they are being snubbed in the plans for its jubilant homecoming.

Museum bosses have confirmed that the public will not be invited to ride behind the locomotive when it travels from Doncaster to York to mark the beginning of Railfest, its celebration of the bicentenary of steam locomotives.

But the Scotsman will do public runs between York and Scarborough during the summer.

The NRM launched a huge public appeal to secure the locomotive when it looked as though it might be sold to a foreign buyer. Rail fans donated a massive £425,000, which with a £365,000 gift from Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson and £1.8 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund enabled the museum to buy the locomotive and ensure that it remains in the UK.

But rail enthusiast John Rathmell, of Melton Avenue, Rawcliffe, York, said it was a "betrayal" by the museum to make the loco's triumphant journey into York "invite only".

"The museum wasn't backwards in coming forwards when asking the public for money during the appeal," he said.

"They've forgotten about ordinary people now - it's the same old story.

"After such a marvellous response I'm amazed the museum couldn't find some way of allowing some people on.

"They could have put names into a hat or something."

Mr Rathmell, 53, paid tribute to Sir Richard Branson for his donation and said he deserved his place on Flying Scotsman for its journey to York.

An NRM spokesman confirmed the Scotsman's journey to York would be "invite only".

Jon Ingham, head of fundraising at the NRM, said: "We at the National Railway Museum are delighted to have been able to secure Flying Scotsman for the nation with the support of the public.

"As a result of this, we will be providing plenty of opportunities in the future for members of the public to enjoy rides behind this legendary locomotive.

"Firm plans for its future runs are still under discussion at this early stage. To obtain details as soon as they become available, please send your name and address to Flying Scotsman, Marketing Department, National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ."

Updated: 10:37 Friday, April 23, 2004