A UK train that shouldn’t exist | Daily News Byte

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“It was the last main line railway in England that was built almost entirely by hand,” explains Drew Healey, former general manager of the Settle-Carlisle Railway Development Company, a community partnership dedicated to the line, “and they built something beautiful.”

This description holds true throughout the year for both line and landscape. I’ve taken the train before on a snow-dusted winter’s day, when the peaks look dull and the stations pass like Christmas-card scenes, but on this summer afternoon, the views over the slopes are bright and the valleys lush. The journey, which takes 100 minutes from start to finish, offers a rare view.

A century after it was built, however, the line was falling on hard times. The infamous Beeching Cuts of the 1960s – an attempt by the now-defunct British Rail chairman, Richard Beeching, to streamline the rail network by closing thousands of stations – saw the closure of almost all stops along the line. By the 1980s, with the track used by only a handful of freight and passenger trains and some infrastructure dilapidated, British Rail proposed mothballing Settle-Carlisle for good. This did not go down well with the locals.

“Having grown up in Yorkshire, my earliest memories are of the closure debate in the 1980s,” Haley said. “It was on the telly that they were campaigning to save this famous historic line that had been built through the rugged North Pennines and cost many lives. It became a huge campaign because people cared about it.”

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