But now the incredible story is about to unfold in the last in this season's Play, Pie and a Pint series.
Twenty five years ago arts writer and theatre critic Robert Dawson Scott was set to make a rail journey from London to Glasgow.
To pass the time on the trip, and gain a little insight into the route his train would take, he walked into a little second hand book shop, and discovered a book about trains.
This book, however, was not the stuff of trainspotters' dreams - pictures of steam locomotives and anorakish detail. It was a real-life, adventure story, of derring-do and madness.
And it was a story which Robert held in his head for a quarter of a century.
"I bought The Railway Race To The North, by O.S . Nock," the writer recalls. "It was the story of a train race, in 1895, from London to Aberdeen.
"It was a race between people, but also man and machine. Back in the 1890s, no one really knew how fast steam trains could go. The regular speed was around 40mph, but these guys were doing 80mph.
"And in the middle of the night. And it was dangerous. In fact, there was a station in Fife where railway workers had to re-align the track after the train had passed through because the track bent, because of the speed of the train."
Robert adds; "This was uncharted territory. This was about train drivers on two competing routes the East Coast and the West Coast, going hard against each other.
"It was a death-defying contest, sparked by the opening of the Forth Bridge. And of course, it was a contest between Glasgow and Edinburgh."
Robert figured the story was spectacular, but what to do with it?
"I'd held it in my head all this time, but it was only when A Play, A Pie and A Pint appeared that I thought this could be a fantastic opportunity to tell the story," he added.
He wasn't wrong. The Oran Mor series is perfect for a great Scottish story, where an epic adventure can be cleverly reduced to produce compelling, entertaining theatre.
"As a writer, the first thing you want to know when you write a piece is 'What's the word count?' And the format, the 50 minute- length, the fact you are limited to three actors, helped fix the idea in my mind."
The storyline is already underpinned by the drama. "The race took place in the middle of the night and it attracted incredible attention.
"People would line the rails along the route to watch the trains speed past."
In further researching the story of this great train rivalry the writer uncovered some surprises about the trains.
He said: "I went down to the National Railway Museum in York and one of the engines was there. And it was tiny, much smaller than I'd expected.
"These trains were going incredibly fast, yet they weren't nearly as big as Flying Scotsman or a Mallard class loco."
He also came to realise the characteristics of the West/East rail companies mirrored the cities they represented.
"The East Coast line was rather more careful, more serious," he notes, smiling.
"Whereas the Caledonian line was more cavalier, more extravagant."
The writer uses a surreal device in the play to narrate the story.
"The signal box is a character, with Joyce Falconer playing the Signal Box," he says of the play, which stars Iain Robertson and Grant O'Rourke as the competing train drivers.
After a 25 year gestation, Robert is delighted the story is being told.
"It's an incredible feeling," he says. "And I've got a great cast."
He smiles when asked how it feels to be a poacher turned gamekeeper, the theatre critic whose work will now be subjected to analysis.
"Writing a play give you an added insight into the process," he says, smiling. "Perhaps it will make me a little more understanding in future.
n The Great Train Race, Oran Mor, until Saturday