Ribblehead Viaduct

11 iconic trains to have run on the Settle to Carlisle Railway since it was saved from closure

It's 30 years since one of the most popular railway lines in Britain was saved from the axe.

The Settle to Carlisle line traverses some of the most stunning scenery in the country, including the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines. It crosses the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct. Originally built in the 1870s, by the 1980s it was suffering from a lack of investment, and British Rail mooted its closure. Freight trains tended to use the West Coast Main Line and passenger numbers were low and mainly restricted to Dales tourists. British Rail claimed the costs of repairing viaducts and tunnels would cost too much to justify keeping the line open, and by 1984 closure notices were posted at stations. Campaign groups mustered to object to the plans, claiming that the line had potential as a tourist route, a diversion for the West Coast Main Line, and could be used for through traffic to Scotland. A key moment was the exposure of British Rail's 'dirty tricks' tactics, when it was revealed they had been deliberately re-routing freight traffic and had exaggerated maintenance costs. There was such outrage from the public that passenger numbers in 1989 were 450,000 - in 1983 they had only been 93,000. The government finally refused to allow the line to close, and British Rail was instructed to commence repair work. By 2012, passenger numbers were 1.2million, several stations have been re-opened and quarries have been re-connected to the line. It's now hugely popular with charter trains and steam specials, and has hosted several famous locomotives. A landslip saw the route closed for nearly a year between 2016 and 2017, and its re-opening was celebrated with the first steam-hauled timetabled passenger service in over 50 years.

The Scotsman was invited to run from Carlisle to Oxenhope to celebrate the re-opening of the line after a landslip

1. Flying Scotsman crossing Dent Head Viaduct, March 2017

The Scotsman was invited to run from Carlisle to Oxenhope to celebrate the re-opening of the line after a landslip
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A Northern passenger service crosses the most iconic section of the line

2. Modern train crosses Ribblehead Viaduct, November 2017

A Northern passenger service crosses the most iconic section of the line
Charlotte Graham
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The Railway Touring Company used former London Midland and Scottish Railway locomotive Black Five to haul their special Cumbrian Mountain Express trains in summer 2009

3. LMS Black Five, 2009

The Railway Touring Company used former London Midland and Scottish Railway locomotive Black Five to haul their special Cumbrian Mountain Express trains in summer 2009
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This engine spent eight years in a scrapyard before being preserved at the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. A private owner restored her for mainline use and she's now operated by West Coast Railways

4. 48151 hauling a Dalesman charter excursion, July 2018

This engine spent eight years in a scrapyard before being preserved at the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. A private owner restored her for mainline use and she's now operated by West Coast Railways
Charlotte Graham
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