Settle-Carlisle line: Tornado powers 12 scheduled services
Timetabled services on a world-famous railway line have been powered by steam for the first time in decades.
Tornado, the newest steam locomotive in Britain, will pull 12 Northern services on the Settle-Carlisle line over three consecutive days.
It is part of celebrations to mark the upcoming reopening of the line after landslides closed a long stretch.
The line takes in the Yorkshire Dales and passes over the Ribblehead viaduct before entering Cumbria’s Eden Valley.
The £3m Tornado 60163, which is able to achieve speeds of 75mph (120km/h), was built in Darlington and Doncaster by a group of enthusiasts over 18 years and completed in 2008.
A Peppercorn A1 Class locomotive, it was the first main line steam engine to be built in the UK since the 1960s.
‘All but sold out’
The steam-hauled, eight-carriage trains will run two return journeys a day between Appleby and Skipton from Tuesday to Thursday (14-16 February).
Northern said tickets were now “all but sold out” across the three days, with no guarantee passengers would be able to board the train without a reservation.
The line closed between the Cumbrian town of Appleby and Carlisle in February 2016 after a 500,000-tonne landslip at Eden Brow caused by heavy rain.
A section between Armathwaite and Carlisle remains shut while £23m of repair work is carried out – with the stretch due to officially reopen on 31 March.
Danny Savage, BBC North of England Correspondent
This is more than just a novelty. For over a year the Settle to Carlisle route has been severed in Cumbria by a huge landslide, with Northern wanting to give the route a high-profile boost before the reopening.
Laying on the first timetabled, turn-up-and-go steam services in nearly half a century is just the ticket.
It was on the Settle-Carlisle line that the last steam passenger train ran in August 1968, and rail enthusiasts will see this opportunity as a bargain.
An adult standard day return between Appleby and Skipton costs about £17, and for that you get a ride behind Tornado in “proper” carriages. Expect the services to be hugely popular.
Paul Barnfield, regional director at Northern, said: “It is great to see so many people supporting this historic venture.
“We always knew that the first timetabled steam services in the UK for 50 years would be extremely popular, but the demand for tickets has been phenomenal.”
The 72-mile Settle-Carlisle line, which handles about 1.3m passenger journeys a year, opened in 1876.
- Construction began in 1869 and ended in 1876
- 6,000 labourers worked on building the railway
- Runs for 72 miles between Settle in North Yorkshire and Carlisle in Cumbria
- Features 20 viaducts and 14 tunnels
- Dent Station, at 1,150ft (350.5m), is the highest mainline station in England
Josephine Shoosmith, Settle-Carlisle Railway project manager, said: “It’s going to be fantastic to see lots of people back on the train, loads of people in the towns along the railway line.
“It’s no surprise to us that this has been hugely popular, there’s something irresistible about the magic of steam.”
Mark Rand, from Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Railway, said: “The idea came from Germany, where for a couple of decades they have been doing this on scheduled services, so it has been borrowed from there.
“It has never been tried in the UK.”
Source: BBC – UK News