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Settle & Carlisle Railway

The Settle and Carlisle Railway (S&C) runs for 73 miles from the town of Settle in the south to the city of Carlisle in the north. The line was built in the 1870’s and today all passenger services are operated by Northern Rail.

The line cuts through some of the most remote parts of the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines which boast some of the most dramatic scenery England has to offer.

The line stands as a testament to Victorian engineering; it was built by over 6000 navvies who worked in some of the remotest places through extreme weather conditions.

In the early 1960’s the Beeching Report recommended the withdrawal of all passenger operations, these plans were shelved. In May 1970 all stations along the line with the exception of Settle and Appleby West were closed and only two passenger services operated in each direction each day.

During this period the Settle and Carlisle Railway fell into a sad state of disrepair, most traffic was diverted onto the West Coast Main Line and the condition of many of the tunnels and viaducts deteriorated severely.

In 1981 a protest group called the Friends of the Settle – Carlisle Line was established with the aim of campaigning against the proposed closure of the line by British Rail. In 1984 the notices of closure went up and the group along with local authorities and rail enthusiasts joined together to highlight the potential for tourism as well as the line being a diversionary route should the West Coast Main Line be closed for engineering works.

The proposed closure sparked uproar as the Settle and Carlisle Railway was a main line, not some branch to nowhere. Finally after many years of raising awareness and increasing passenger numbers the Government refused consent to close the line in 1989.

Today the Settle and Carlisle Railway sees much freight traffic which is unable to use the congested West Coast Main Line. In addition, the line provides a diversionary route when the West Coast Main Line is closed for engineering works.  

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