Steam locomotive replaces regular passenger service for first time in 50 years

The romance of steam returns to Britain's railways for Valentine's Day as a traditional locomotive hauls passengers on a scheduled main line service for the first time in half a century.

The Peppercorn class A1 steam locomotive, Tornado, will pass over the "Roof of England" on the famous Settle to Carlisle line later today, carrying hundreds of steam enthusiasts.

Carving its way through spectacular snow-capped scenery through the rugged Eden Valley in Cumbria, across the majestic Ribblehead Viaduct and over the Yorkshire Dales, Tornado's journey will be the first for 50 years that a steam train has replaced regular train passenger services.

The initiative, organised by Northern Rail, Network Rail and the Friends of Settle and Carlisle, runs from today until Thursday, running two return journeys each day between Appleby and Skipton.

Rail enthusiasts have already snapped up almost all the reserved seats, around half of the 500 seats on each journey, and queues are expected for the remaining unsold unreserved tickets on the day.

British Transport Police (BTP) officers will patrol the route over the three days and encourage enthusiasts to enjoy the spectacle while remaining at a safe vantage point.

Inspector Neil Hubbs, from BTP, said: "We understand people are excited about seeing the Tornado and want them to enjoy the occasion and, of course, have a great day out.

"Our priority is the safety of the public and passengers viewing and travelling on the train. The railway is a hazardous environment and we urge people who are planning on attending to use safe vantage points to view and take pictures of the train, stay clear of the line and not to risk their lives and the lives of others by trespassing on the tracks, and to respect local landowners by not trespassing on any private land."

Paul Barnfield, regional director at Northern Railway, said: "It is great to see so many people supporting this historic venture.

"We always knew that the first timetabled steam services in the UK for 50 years would be extremely popular, but the demand for tickets has been phenomenal.

"The running of Tornado on the Settle and Carlisle line - as a timetabled service - is going to be quite a spectacle and we want everyone to be able to enjoy the three-day event.

"The services, and all stations along the line, will be extremely busy and we understand that even those who are not travelling will want to be able to witness Tornado running on the historic line."

The first train leaves Appleby at 8.25am today.

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