It is often described as the most picturesque stretch of railway in the UK but there was a time when the Settle-Carlisle line was under threat of closure.
During the 1980s there were calls to shut the route down due to a lack of investment and suggestions that some of the repair work would be too expensive to carry out. However, it took a team of dedicated campaigners and railway lovers to ensure that this famous railway was kept open. This weekend (April 11th) marks the 25th anniversary of the service being saved in 1989 and will be celebrated with a special journey.
Among the hundreds of people that will board the Leeds to Carlisle, via Settle, route on Friday will be former transport minister Michael Portillo and a number of campaigners that were integral to keeping the route open. Mr Portillo, himself a lover of trains, was also credited with playing a part in the reprieving of the railway and will be on board the service to breathe in the sights and sounds of this special line.
The locomotive will leave Leeds station at around 10:00 BST reaching Carlisle by 12:30 BST stopping at all the various stations en route. One calling point will be Dent which is England's highest mainline station while snaking through the Yorkshire and Cumbrian countryside.
Speaking to the Craven Herald, Alex Hynes, managing director of Northern Rail, said: "The Settle to Carlisle line is a vital part of the bustling and vibrant towns and villages that stretch across the Pennines and along the Dales – and they’re growing.
"We’re now carrying 1.3 million passengers every year. It’s hard to think what could have happened to these communities 25 years ago if the proposed closure had gone ahead.”
The highlight of the journey is undoubtedly the Ribblehead viaduct. It was this viaduct that nearly closed the route as officials believed it would be too expensive to maintain, however the campaigners managed to fix and renovate the viaduct at just a fraction of the original projected cost.