From: Frank W Pate, Hargill Court, Redmire, Leyburn.
Recently my wife and I had friends from Norfolk to stay with us. On the way they broke their journey at Ribblehead in order to take a trip on the Settle to Carlisle railway, specifically for the spectacular scenery on that section of the line.
When they got to us I asked them if they had enjoyed the journey. Yes, they said, very much, the stations all the way were looking very smart.
The platforms were decorated with tubs of flowering plants and all the seats and waiting rooms looking freshly painted.
The trolley service and the guide on the train were also good.
However, the train was less than comfortable, an ancient diesel that rattled and jolted along as though on square wheels.
The toilet on the train was so disgustingly filthy as to be unusable, so much so that our friend called the conductor and told him that he had taken photographs of it and would be sending copies to Northern Rail.
He received some excuses from the conductor about cutbacks for the line and how they had lost a quantity of freight traffic which had affected funding for passenger services.
Our friend pointed out that he and his wife would be travelling back from Carlisle on the same train 35 minutes after arrival and if the toilet had not been cleaned by then he would be taking further pictures.
He explained that before retirement he had been a property surveyor for a national chain of high street stores.
One of his duties was to oversee the cleanliness of some 300 in-store toilets and if only one of them had been found in a similar condition he would have been dismissed on the spot.
The Settle to Carlisle railway is a tourist line and surely should be given the attention it merits in order to maximise customers.
When our friends re-boarded the train for the return to Ribblehead some cleaning had been carried out, not exactly pristine clean but at least usable.
Surely instead of proposing spending billions of pounds on HS2, which the general public don’t want anyway, some effort should be put into improving existing lines? Especially those that are noted for their fantastic scenery and carry thousands of tourists from many countries.
This is a pity because a great deal of excellent work is done by volunteers on the Settle to Carlisle railway and to apparently receive no support from the franchisee of the line is not good enough.