Northern Rail, which operates services on the landslip-damaged Settle to Carlisle line, has hired the A1 Tornado locomotive to haul regular services on the Appleby-Skipton section of the stretch in February.
Significant engineering work in the past year since the landslide has seen travellers experience regular disruption, and the gesture is a partnership between the operator, Network Rail, the line's Friends group and the trust which runs the Tornado.
A three-day steam service will operate on February 14, 15 and 16, with the seven-carriage train making two timetabled and two additional journeys. It will be the first time in over 50 years that a steam engine has worked a regular, non-charter service on the UK network.
Four of the carriages have been reserved for pre-booked ticket holders, while the remaining three will be open access, with tickets sold at everyday prices for the journey.
Northern's regional director Paul Barnfield said:
“We know it has been a difficult time for people living on the Settle and Carlisle line and they have experienced unprecedented disruption to the services they have come to rely on. We, therefore, wanted to do something different – and a bit special – by way of saying thank you and the visit of Tornado allows us to do just that.
“Not only will local people by able to travel on the first regular timetabled UK steam service for almost 50 years, they will be able to do so on their own doorstep. And local businesses will benefit too.
“We expect large numbers of people to travel up and down the Settle and Carlisle line during the three days and these visitors will, no doubt, provide an unexpected boost to the economy.
“Demand for tickets will be extremely high and whilst there will be three unreserved carriages on each journey, I would strongly advise anyone who wants to travel to pre-book and reserve a seat. There will be seven carriages in total for each journey and standing will not be permitted – so spaces will be limited and we really don’t want anyone to be disappointed.
“The visit of Tornado will be a landmark moment for the Settle and Carlisle line and we want everyone who lives or works in the area to be able to savour the moment.”
Mark Rand of the Friends of Settle and Carlisle Line added:
“What more could anybody possibly want from a railway journey? A ride behind a steam locomotive, Tornado, on one of the world's most spectacular train journeys at everyday prices."
The entire line will re-open to traffic on March 31.
Tickets for the Tornado services can be purchased from the usual retail outlets as well as via the Northern website and the Northern mobile app.
The timetable for each day of the Tornado services is as follows:
Appleby departs 8.25am
Skipton arrives 10.08am
Skipton departs 10.44am
Appleby arrives 12.16pm
Appleby departs 2.57pm
Skipton arrives 4.30pm
Skipton departs 5.15pm
Appleby arrives 6.46pm