Steam engine returns to railway for first time in 50 years

It took 18 years to build the £3m Tornado 60163

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The age of steam made a romantic Valentine's Day return to British railways with the first main line service in 50 years.

Hundreds of passengers enjoyed a brief encounter with the Peppercorn class A1 steam 'Tornado' as it passed over the "Roof of England" on the famous Settle to Carlisle line.

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Carving its way through spectacular snow-capped hills, the beautiful engine was seen against the magnificent backdrop of the rugged Eden Valley in Cumbria.

Graeme Bunker, director of the A1 steam locomotive trust, responsible for running the Tornado, said: "People stand in awe as it goes by. You can see them looking up from their newspapers and iPads, it is like a time machine.

"That is what brings the most joy - seeing that look on their faces."

Credits: PA

PA

It took 18 years for a group of enthusiasts in Darlington and Doncaster to build the £3m Tornado 60163. It can achieve speeds of 75 mph (120km/h), and it was completed in 2008.

Yet those on board paid just £17.70 for a Skipton to Appleby adult standard day return - a bargain trip compared to the £220 cost of a trip on the Flying Scotsman.

Credits: PA

PA

Watched by scores of photographers, train spotters and lovers of a bygone era, the Tornado crossed the majestic Ribblehead Viaduct and over the Yorkshire Dales.

The journey was the first time in 50 years that a steam train had replaced regular train passenger services. Mark Rand, of the Friends of the Settle to Carlisle railway, told how the idea had come from Germany, where a steam service has been re-introduced.

Credits: PA

PA

"Now we are seeing it here," he said. "But it had never been tried before in the UK."

Signal man Bob Swallow described the 'incredible' feeling of watching old levers and fringe boxes used again. "It is wonderful," he said as the steam flew up from the engine and onto a platform at Settle station.

Credits: PA

PA

"There will be photographers all over the place just to see it."

The Appleby to Carlisle stretch closed 12 months ago after a 500,000-tonne landslip. It is due to officially reopen on 31 March, and rail bosses wanted to show it at its best.

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PA

The steam initiative, organised by Northern Rail, Network Rail and the Friends of Settle and Carlisle, is running two return journeys each day between Appleby and Skipton until Thursday Feb 16.

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.

Credits: PA

PA

British Transport Police (BTP) officers will patrol the route and encourage enthusiasts to enjoy the spectacle while remaining safe.

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

Credits: PA

PA

"We urge people 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."

Paul Barnfield, regional director at Northern Railway, described the demand for tickets as 'phenomenal'. "We want everyone to be able to enjoy it," he said.

Great railway journeys

Great railway journeys