THOUSANDS of people were left smiling this week after steam made a welcome return to the Settle and Carlisle line.
Northern took its customers to a bygone age by replacing regular timetabled services with a steam service – hauled by the A1 locomotive Tornado.
The idea, which came to fruition thanks to strong partnership work between Northern, DB Cargo UK, A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, Friends of Settle and Carlisle Line (FoSCL), Rail and Steam Railway, was to give something back to people who use the line regularly and have had to contend with disrupted services for more than a year following a land slip at Eden Brows in February 2016.
Paul Barnfield, regional director at Northern, said: “Tornado’s visit to the Settle and Carlisle line has been fantastic.
“During the three days more than 5,500 people travelled on the steam services and it was great to see so many Northern customers entering into the spirit of the celebration.
"This was the first timetabled steam service in England for almost 50 years and to be able to bring Tornado to such an iconic and visually stunning line, as a way of saying thank you, was a genuine pleasure.
"I’d like to give my thanks to all partners who made the event possible. Running a 21st Century timetabled steam service is unprecedented in England and though there were challenges along the way, there is no doubt that Tornado’s visit was a remarkable success.”
Graeme Bunker, operations director for the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust said: “It was a privilege for Tornado to be part of this fantastic event and to be trusted to haul 12 regular Northern Rail services over the magnificent Settle and Carlisle Railway.
“To see the many thousands who travelled and many thousands more enjoying the event at the line side made the endeavour very worthwhile and delivered a welcome boost to the local community and small businesses after recent challenges.
“I am very proud of my team for their part in ensuring the services ran so successfully.”
Richard Corser, DB Cargo UK’s Account Manager for Charters, Special Trains and Resource Hires, said: “We were delighted to collaborate with our rail industry colleagues on these historic services.
“It was wonderful to see how enthusiastically the local communities welcomed the trains, from school children to older generations. And it goes without saying that we're very proud of our DB Cargo UK train crew for 60163 Tornado, with their combined experience of approximately 80 years working on steam locomotives they made sure the passengers had a journey that they're sure to remember fondly for many years to come."
Douglas Hodgins, FoSCL Chairman added: “This has been a sell-out success and a huge credit to all those involved.
“There must be lessons here about the demand for steam, scenery and rail travel in general. It was the perfect curtain raiser for the re-opening of the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle route on 31 March.”