Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Settle and Carlisle Railway

The Settle and Carlisle Railway (S&C) is a 72 mile (115 km) long main-railway line in northern England. It is a part of the British railway system and was constructed in the 1870s.

Artengill viaduct
near Dent station

The line runs through a remote region, the Yorkshire Dales, and is considered by many people to be one of the most scenic railways in England.

Due to the hilly terrain through which it passes the S&C was a major trial of engineering. It contains 14 tunnels and 17 viaducts, the most notable being the Ribblehead Viaduct.

The line runs from a junction with a line to Leeds, near the town of Settle, to the town of Carlisle on the England/Scotland border. On the way the line passes through the town of Appleby and a number of small communities.

Ribblehead station


The S&C was built by the Midland Railway company, after an dispute with the London and North Western Railway over access to Scotland over the LNWR's route.

Construction work started in 1870, and was completed in 1876.

After nearly a century of uneventful existence in the 1960s, as a part of the Beeching Axe, the S&C had many of its minor stations closed and its stopping passenger service removed, leaving only freight and a handful of passenger services operating on the line.

From the 1960s until the 1980s the S&C suffered a drought of investment, and much freight traffic was diverted from the S&C onto the West Coast Mainline. Because of the lack of investment the condition of many of the viaducts and tunnels on the line was deteriorating.

Threat of closure

In the early 1980s, the S&C was carrying only a handful of trains per day, and British Rail decided that the cost of renewing the viaducts and tunnels would be prohibitively expensive, given the small amount of traffic carried on the line.

In 1984 closure notices were posted at the S&C's remaining stations. However local authorities and rail enthusiasts joined together and started a campaign to save the S&C, pointing out that British Rail was ignoring the S&C's potential for tourism.

British Rail eventually agreed to keep the line open in 1989, and to repair the deteriorating tunnels and viaducts.

The line today

In recent years, due to congestion on the West Coast Mainline, much freight and passenger traffic has been diverted back onto the S&C, and many of the minor stations have been re-opened.

The S&C is probably busier now (2003) than at any time in its history.

External Link