BOSSES at the East Lancs Railway say ticket sales are 15 per cent up on the same stage in 2018.

But the absence of the Flying Scotsman and other major attractions will present the heritage line with a “challenging year”, ELR board members have been told.

Last year attendances were swelled by the arrival of the legendary loco and Tornado, the 100mph steam engine.

Their figures were further boosted by the 40s at 60 diesel gala, which will not be taking place this time around.

Reported attendances for two other ELR mainstays, the Thomas the Tank engine days and the 1940s weekend, are also said to be “significantly down” year-on-year.

In a report to the ELR board, chairman Mike Kelly said: “As expected the absence of Flying Scotsman, Tornado and a successful 40s at 60 diesel gala will result in our revenues being a lot less in 2019.

“Controlling our costs for the remainder of the year will be important to help us get through what will be a challenging year.”

The heritage railway has a number of special events lined up before the end of the year though, with the Wizard Academy being staged throughout August and again in October.