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Saturday, 1 April 2017

The Settle-Carlisle is Open Again

What a day yesterday was.   I had stayed overnight in Carlisle to catch the very first Northern service train t0 go the full length through to Leeds for 15 months.   It was dark when we left Carlisle with a load of journalists and VIPs on board.

We had the privilege of seeing the dawn break into a glorious day en route to Keighley where I enjoyed an hearty breakfast courtesy of Story boss Fred Story.   Then on to the Flying Scotsman for the official inaugural train from the Worth Valley Railway (KWVR) back to Carlisle. com/news/calendar/update/2017-03-31/all-aboard-the-worlds-most-famous-steam-engine/

I was there to work - to go right through the 11 coach train, talking to all of the 500 or so passengers and giving each one an information leaflet about the S&C, breaking off only to do a live BBC radio interview as we took on water at Hellifield.

The church bells rang out at Settle and at Lazonby.   Crowds were at every station and on every  hillside.   The attendance at Carlisle was phenomenal with crowd barriers the full length of Citadel Station's main line Platform 1.

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After my duties I thought I should not neglect the VIPs in first class so boldly plonked myself among them to have my packed lunch.   Turned out I had plonked myself next to Network Rail Chairman Sir Peter Hendy.   Others present introduced me to him and as we shook hands he boosted my confidence no end by saying "Ah yes - I keep seeing you on telly"!

Another of my conversation victims was the Rail Minister who confessed to me that he had never travelled on the S&C before.   He had been stunned by the experience of the day and was like a child with a new toy.   He had come prepared to do paperwork but just could not take his eyes off the scenery.   He was genuinely astounded to discover that the line was a strategic main Anglo-Scottish one with St Pancras as its southern terminal.

As we approached Eden Brows I went to the guards van to rendezvous by arrangement with KWVR's  commentator Sam McDougall so that I could explain the site for him to relay to the train.   There being no sign of Sam I found myself doing that bit of the commentary, instructing everybody on board to wave at the two groups of Orange Army troops who I knew would be there.

I came back from Carlisle on a service train to relax - in time to see the Flying Scotsman on its return leg roaring through Settle.

As on its northbound journey Flying Scotsman gave a long blast on its whistle as it passed Settle church.   Derek Soames will have heard it without a shadow of a doubt.

A poignant end to a momentous day.

1 comment:

  1. You must be bursting with pride. What a fantastic day of celebration & commemoration.


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