Staycation Express tourist trains to return to Settle to Carlisle line in October half-term after successful second season

The Staycation Express rail service has proved so popular in its second summer of operations that its season is to be extended.

Director Adrian Quine with Staycation Express staff at Settle Station
Director Adrian Quine with Staycation Express staff at Settle Station

Director Adrian Quine confirmed that the company - a subsidy of high-end steam tour operator Rail Charter Services - will run October half-term trains between Settle and Carlisle via Skipton and Appleby.

The main season for the Staycation Express ended on September 10 and the tourist-orientated service on the scenic line has been just as popular as it was during its first year of running in 2020, when it was conceived to take advantage of the staycation boom.

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This year an InterCity 125 painted in Staycation Express livery operated the entire timetable, unlike last summer when various diesel rolling stock was leased to run a shuttle along only part of the route.

The use of the 125 - which had just come off the lease from the Great Western Railway - meant buffet and restaurant cars could be offered to customers and a 'mix and match' ticketing system was introduced to complement Northern's regular timetable on the line.

In 2020 there was a celebrity passenger on the Express as actress Joanna Lumley rode it while filming her ITV travel series Home Sweet Home, and this year the train will make an apperance on our screens again, as Tim Dunn, presenter of UKTV's The Architecture the Railways Built, travelled on it. Channel Four also filmed aboard.

Mr Quine said: "The season went well with lots of positive feedback about the new train and the on-board dining, with the buffet and restaurant cars proving popular.The mix and match ticketing also proved popular as people could choose their outward and return train times and dates creating flexibility.

"The Staycation Express created additional capacity on the popular Settle-Carlisle line during the summer months, when demand often exceeds supply and Northern also have additional pressures on them, such as increasing capacity on their trains to the Yorkshire coast.

"Despite a slow start thanks to Covid and the rail industry not being allowed to promote leisure travel, some of our trains later in the season were full. This shows what huge demand there is for a bespoke modern tourist train with comfy seats, large windows, subtle lighting, air conditioning, power points and quality catering. Passengers react well when the service offering is tailored with them in mind and good customer service is central to the offering.

"We are formulating plans to run during half-term between October 23 and 30 and are currently working on updating the booking system. Details will be available on the website in late September."