Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall travelled by steam yesterday along a heritage railway line badly damaged in last summer's floods.
Charles learned how to signal trains and drove the locomotive during the visit to the newly reopened Severn Valley Railway. The 16-mile track, which runs through Worcestershire and Shropshire, suffered major damage last year.
More than £3 million was spent on repairing the track, parts of which were left hanging in mid-air following landslides.
The crowds cheered as the royal train, pulled by steam engine, arrived at Bewdley train station in Worcestershire.
The pair greeted the public before Charles looked around the signal box and Camilla returned to the train.
Dressed in a protective blue smock, the Prince laughed as he sounded the horn on board the steam engine.
"It's amazing what small things will please," he joked.
John Hill, marketing assistant for Severn Valley Railway, said: "It's nice to have what we have done over 40 years be recognised like this.
"He has heard about our misfortunes and he has come to give us a boost which will help tourism."
Up to 300,000 tourists visit the attraction each year. Local residents also benefit from the railway by being awarded discounted travel on the line. The royal couple travelled on the train from Kidderminster, Worcestershire, to Bridgnorth in Shropshire, stopping off at various stations on the way.
During their visit to Worcestershire, they also toured a surgery which was affected by last summer's flooding.
The pair were shown around the new Upton Surgery, a combined GP and dentist practice, in Upton-upon-Severn, and unveiled a stained glass window in the reception.
The visit came as the Environment Agency warned that national effort is needed to tackle the vulnerability of buildings such as power stations and hospitals to flooding.
Almost ayear on from last summer's floods the agency said Government, local authorities and utility companies still needed to work together to address the threat to critical infrastructure.
The Environment Agency also urged people to take responsibility for protecting themselves and homes from flooding, signing up to warning schemes and taking steps to prepare - especially as floods may become more common with climate change.
And it said urgent action was required to sort out who is responsible for surface water flooding - the cause of much of the damage in parts of the country last summer after the wettest May to June on record.
The Environment Agency said that in the 12 months since the flooding in June and July 2007, it had completed 34 flood defences to increase protection to more than 30,000 homes.
Agency officials had inspected 5,300 miles of defences, and spent £5 million on repairing those which were damaged.
Some £125 million had been spent on investigations and maintenance on main rivers, including CCTV surveys on waterways in Gloucester to clear blockages.
A recently completed £14 million defence scheme in Nottingham will protect more than 5,600 properties, and a £13.1m scheme now protects 1,000 properties in Carlisle.
An additional 73,000 people have signed up for its free flood warning service, but less than half of those who can receive the warnings are registered, the Environment Agency said.