First scheduled steam train service used by 5,500 people

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Media captionTornado crossed the Ribblehead Viaduct

More than 5,000 people travelled on the first timetabled steam train service on the Settle to Carlisle railway line in 50 years, Northern Rail has said.

Tornado, the newest steam locomotive in Britain, pulled 12 Northern services over three days from 14 -16 February.

The company described the event as "a remarkable success" and has not ruled out running similar services again.

It was part of celebrations to mark the upcoming reopening of the line after landslides closed a long stretch.

Paul Barnfield, Northern Rail regional director, said: "During the three days just over 5,500 people travelled on the steam services and it was great to see so many 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."

Settle-Carlisle Railway

  • Construction began in 1869 and ended in 1876
  • 6,000 labourers worked on building the railway
  • It runs for 72 miles between Settle in North Yorkshire and Carlisle in Cumbria
  • Handles 1.3m passenger journeys a year
  • Features 20 viaducts and 14 tunnels
  • Dent Station, at 1,150ft (350.5m), is the highest mainline station in England

Graeme Bunker, of the Darlington-based A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, which built Tornado, said: "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 after recent challenges.

"I am very proud of my team for their part in ensuring the services ran so successfully."

Image copyright Network Rail
Image caption The landslip was caused by heavy rain

Douglas Hodgins, of the Friends of Settle to Carlisle Line, added: "There must be lessons here about the demand for steam, scenery and rail travel in general. It was the perfect curtain-raiser for the reopening of the line on 31 March."

It took 18 years for the trust to build the £3m Tornado 60163, which can achieve speeds of 75mph (120km/h). It was completed in 2008.

The Appleby to Carlisle stretch of line closed in February 2016 after a 500,000-tonne landslip at Armathwaite.

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