Full steam ahead after major repairs to historic railway

The Flying Scotsman crosses the Ribblehead Viaduct. Photo by Anita Watson.

By Betsy Everett

Thousands of people watched the world-famous locomotive, Flying Scotsman, steam along the iconic Settle-Carlisle railway line, celebrating the successful completion of Network Rail’s £23 million investment in major repair works.

The stretch of line at Eden Brows was forced to close just over a year ago when a half-million tonne landslip in heavy rain caused ground beneath the track to fall 1.5 metres below its normal level.

Engineers built a concrete and steel tunnel-like structure to stabilise the damaged and shifting ground.

The line was closed initially between Appleby and Carlisle and in June services began running as far as Armathwaite with a bus service taking passengers on to Carlisle.

The massive project was completed on schedule and the journey of the Flying Scotsman marked a triumph of engineering both past and present.

Among those who turned out to watch its majestic progress was public transport campaigner and long-term user of the Settle-Carlisle line, Ruth Annison, who takes up the story:

“We watched the locomotive cross the Dandrymire viaduct into Garsdale station, six miles from Hawes. It was a splendid sight. National publicity followed the train all day, showcasing and promoting the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and Cumbrian Fells right at the start of the tourist season. Local businesses owe a huge thank you to everyone who has worked through the winter to bring the line back into full use on schedule: including Story, the engineering contractors who carried out the repair work. Major attractions such as the Settle-Carlisle line have a well-known ripple effect on the local economy when visitors eat, shop and stay in an area.

“The Settle-Carlisle railway links the northern cities of Leeds and Carlisle with the villages and market towns between them, bringing people into the countryside without their cars and making interesting station-to-station walks possible. Freight trains on the line help to ease the burden on the national road network.”