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It's full steam ahead for vintage railway engine

No. 186 on a trial run at Marino station on the Bangor iine. US34-738SPA VINTAGE steam engine which has just undergone an £85,000 overhaul will be unveiled to the public when it pulls special trains from Lisburn to Bangor next weekend.

No. 186, which dates from 1879 and is one of the oldest mainline steam engines still in operation anywhere in the world, will be in charge of the Bangor Belle train next Saturday.

The historic locomotive, which has been out of operation for 25 years, will operate three round trips between Lisburn, Belfast and Bangor during the day.

The trains are being organised by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in conjunction with Translink, and are open to the public.

No. 186 was restored to working order by the RPSI at its base in Whitehead over the past four years and was officially launched in July.

But the Bangor Belle represents the locomotive's return to full service, and gives the public a first chance to see her in action.

"We are delighted to have no. 186 back in traffic and August 28 promises to be a red-letter day for the Society," said RPSI secretary Paul McCann."

An added attraction is that the train ticket includes free admission to the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum at Cultra, where we will be calling to set down passengers and pick up.

"The Museum will be holding its Crafts and Skills Day to coincide with the Bangor Belle, so there will be plenty for people to see and do.

"No. 186 is in better order than ever, but the Bangor line with its steep gradients will still provide a stiff test for our engine."

The train starts the day by leaving Lisburn at 9.40am, arriving Bangor at 10.35am. The return trip will leave Bangor at 2.35pm, arriving back in Lisburn at 3.35pm.

People from Bangor will be able to board the train at l lam for a trip to Lisburn, arriving at 12pm.

The train back leaves Lisburn at 4pm, arriving in Bangor at 4.50pm.

Flat fare return tickets costing �6 (adult/concession) are available from Lisburn's Tourist Information Centre as well as the Welcome Centre, Donegall Place and information centres in Carrickfergus and Bangor.

Details are available from the RPSI website at or by phone at Whitehead (28260803).