A steam train crossing one of the Settle-Carlisle railway’s many viaducts makes for a classic image. You can often see the hillsides around Ribblehead viaduct, Mallerstang, and other vantage points in the Eden Valley dotted by train enthusiasts and keen photographers, just waiting to catch that magic moment. It seems that everybody loves a steam train – whatever their age.
There is a common misconception that this railway is a ‘steam railway’ and that there is a regular service of steam-hauled trains. This isn’t the case. The Settle-Carlisle line is part of the main UK rail network, not a heritage railway. This website is maintained by the Settle-Carlisle Railway Development Company. We are here to promote the line and the daily passenger service, which is operated by Northern. The trains that run seven days a week, all year round, are comfortable modern diesel units. There’s a refreshment trolley service on many of the trains and you can purchase tickets from any of the usual outlets – and get a discount if you’re a holder of any of the national railcards (Senior, 16-25, Family, Two Together etc). For information about this service, you can telephone 08457 48 49 50 (24 hours).
Of course, steam excursions do feature on the line from time to time. They are run by various specialist operators all year round, but more frequently in the summer months. They originate in other parts of the country and, unfortunately, do not pick up passengers at the stations on the Settle-Carlisle section of the line. If you wish to book a steam excursion, you need to contact the operator direct. There are several sources of information:
Firstly, for an overall picture of steam locomotive movements around the whole of the UK, you could take a look at www.uksteam.info. This is a mine of detailed information. By searching the site for a specific word, say Settle or Carlisle, you can quickly highlight whatever you’re interested in. There are links to the tour operators’ own websites where you can see more information or even book tickets. It’s also a really useful resource if you want train times, so you can be sure to be in the right place at the right time to snap that classic photograph!
During the summer months, we regularly see the Dalesman and the Fellsman excursions coming over the line, hauled by steam locomotives. The Dalesman is operated by West Coast Railways (www.westcoastrailways.co.uk) and the Fellsman by Statesman Rail (www.statesmanrail.com).
So, if you’re looking for a trip on a steam train then get in touch with one of the specialist operators direct. We’re really sorry, but we can’t help with any steam enquiries.
This stunning image of Tornado crossing the Ribblehead viaduct was taken by Stuart Petch in February this year.