Difficulties of Yorkshire Dales rail reopenings - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Michael J Robinson, Park Lane, Berry Brow, Huddersfield.

In his Country & Coast column (The Yorkshire Post, June 29), Roger Ratcliffe looks at the proposal to re-establish what had been the single track railway line connecting Hawes with the Settle-Carlisle railway at Garsdale.

A survey by the Yorkshire Dales National Park has established that there is strong support for the idea of restoring the link, but there are difficulties.

Cost, of course, and reclaiming land long since put to other use by the landowners are huge issues, but the biggest problem is that any such renovation of this six-mile link must be restricted to being either a railway line or a cycle trail. There is not the width to accommodate both.

A steam train over the Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle line. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Mr Ratcliffe takes the view that a traffic-free, fairly flat multi-user route would see everyone from young families, wheelchair users and older people able to enjoy the benefits. And so they would, but on days when the weather would make such excursions pleasurable.

A train connection, however, would be feasible in November and February as well as wet and windy days in spring and summer, delivering all potential trail users dry and comfortable to the tourist attractions of Hawes all year round, which could include cycle provision and walks all around the Hawes countryside.

Furthermore, a renovated railway line between Garsdale and Hawes would carry with it the possibility of an eventual reconnection with the Wensleydale Railway which is presently in place from Northallerton on the East Coast Main Line to Redmire, just a dozen miles east of Hawes. Conversion of the track-bed from Garsdale to Hawes into a multi-user trail, would render any such future ambition impossible.

A recreated rail link, however, could serve all purposes in all weathers.