Staycation Express owners confirm tourist trains will not run on the Settle to Carlisle line this summer due to rising costs

The Staycation Express tourist rail services in the Yorkshire Dales will not run this summer.

Operating company Rail Charter Services has confirmed that rising costs and customer caution were behind the decision not to return to the Settle to Carlisle line for a third season.

The Staycation Express began in July 2020 and was designed to complement Northern's existing timetable by offering trains more suited to leisure travellers on one of the UK's most scenic rail routes.

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It originally used hired diesel locomotives and coaching stock, but in 2021 RCS leased an entire High Speed Train painted in their own livery to run the services between Skipton and Carlisle via Settle and Appleby.

Staycation Express director Adrian Quine with staff at Settle Station

The concept was so successful that it extended its summer season into October half-term.

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The statement read: "Unfortunately we're suspending our 2022 services. Current economic conditions have created the perfect storm of ever rising costs and constrained demand as people tighten their belts during this unprecedented time of uncertainty. We look forward to seeing you aboard in 2023."

Director Adrian Quine told The Yorkshire Post that a 'perfect storm' of factors including a 60 per cent rise in the price of red diesel had contributed to the decision - but added that open access operators deserve more support from the government and the rail industry to bring visitors into rural areas.

"It's very sad, and it's come off the back of a testing couple of years. The timing is just not ideal for a new operating model, and many open access operators had to cut back during lockdowns.

"It's just not sustainable, with the price of fuel, inflation and the squeeze on living standards. Confidence in leisure spend is severely affected and living standards are going down.

"We ran this service at the worst possible time but still got over 25,000 people into parts of the Dales and Cumbria - rural areas that were on their knees during Covid. Businesses almost went under and for some the train saved them. We delivered innovation in the north, but it needs investment and support because innovation comes at a cost.

"Diesel, food, drink and staffing costs have all gone up. There is concern over consumer demand and pushing the prices up would not be attractive in a tight market. These services will never be entirely self-supporting but they require very little subsidy if marketed properly. If people can find our tickets on Trainline and Northern's websites, we can bring in extra growth and tourism spend while taking cars off the road. There are massive benefits for the area.

"We hope to return in 2023 but it really depends on the rail industry pulling together to promote us and make life a bit easier. There's no point having empty slogans about Levelling Up when we have delivered an oven-ready solution."

The Staycation Express was the UK's first dedicated tourist service, offering mainline travel with timings tailored to sightseeing, seating with panoramic views and a buffet car. It was modelled on the luxury viewing trains that traverse the Alps and Rocky Mountains.