Flying Scotsman to mark reopening of scenic line

World famous locomotive Flying Scotsman will mark the reopening of one of the UK's most scenic rail routes.
The Flying Scotsman. Picture: Emma McIntyreThe Flying Scotsman. Picture: Emma McIntyre
The Flying Scotsman. Picture: Emma McIntyre

The Settle-Carlisle line was severed in Cumbria in February 2016 when half a million tonnes of earth gave way under the tracks after weeks of heavy rain.

Full services resumed on Friday following engineering work costing £23 million.

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The first Northern service departed Carlisle at 5.50am, with Flying Scotsman making a special trip to the city at 1.05pm.

The route provides a lifeline to thousands of small businesses and is also a magnet for rail enthusiasts.

Network Rail, which was set up in 2002 to maintain and enhance railway infrastructure, said the scale and remote location of the repair work made it the most challenging in its history.

Martin Frobisher, a route managing director at Network Rail, said: “I am beyond thrilled that customers and goods are moving again on this vital economic artery through Britain’s most beautiful landscape.

“Our orange army has ensured that even if the ground gives way again in future, the railway will not.”

Douglas Hodgins, chairman of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line, said: “It is great to be back in business. We shall be working tirelessly with the railway industry to ensure the line regains its role as a through route to Carlisle and Scotland as quickly as possible - and to seeing the splendours of the Eden Gorge from the trains again.”

The 72-mile route takes passengers through the ruggedly beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Dales and the Eden Valley, and includes the Ribblehead Viaduct, which is 104ft high and has 24 arches.

A section of the line was shut on February 9 last year at Eden Brows, near Armathwaite village, south of Carlisle, after aerial surveillance and track monitoring teams detected the ground slipping beneath the railway towards the River Eden 70 metres below.

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Over the following weeks the track subsided one and a half metres.

The repair project involved hundreds of steel tubes filled with concrete being set into the hillside to form a corridor on which a 100-metre long concrete slab was placed, giving the railway a solid base.

Paul Barnfield, regional director for train operator Northern, said: “The Eden Brows engineering project has been a mammoth task for Network Rail and we are delighted to once again be able to offer a direct train service between Settle and Carlisle.

“We’d like to thank our customers for their patience and look forward to welcoming them back to this iconic stretch of railway.”

Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “Network Rail, contractors and train operators have together worked hard to get this historic line - which first opened 130 years ago - running again.

“Our railways are crucial to our economic future and whether it’s improving services or completing essential repairs, the commitment is the same. That is why I am delighted to be part of this event marking such a significant moment.”