Settle & Carlisle Line - Past, Present & Future

JMPRailwatcher

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It has been 30 years since Michael Portillo announced that the world famous railway line was not to be closed. Since, it has been through devistation and success. Now, it is what the future holds for the sensationally scenic line.
Please post your thoughts about the Settle & Carlisle Line, its past, its present and its future.
Thank you.
 
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hexagon789

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It has been 30 years since Michael Portillo announced that the world famous railway line was not to be closed. Since, it has been through devistation and success. Now, it is what the future holds for the sensationally scenic line.
Please post your thoughts about the Settle & Carlisle Line, its past, its present and its future.
Thank you.
I think it's potential for a greater frequency of local and long-distance trains hasn't been realised. Also, if they raise linespeed it would be far more useful as a diversionary route off the WCML.
 

brad465

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I think it's potential for a greater frequency of local and long-distance trains hasn't been realised. Also, if they raise linespeed it would be far more useful as a diversionary route off the WCML.
Ditto that. 60mph for the S-C distance is far too slow, and if there is a market for getting between Leeds and Carlisle + Cumbria faster a capacity and speed increase for long distance provision would have made it better. I think electrification is too much as the scenic area would make its approval very difficult, but isn't the most effective upgrade to the line possible right now.
 

a_c_skinner

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Many years ago there were a few 125 services over the S&C specials under IIRC the title "What might have been". I was awfully close to one on the foot crossing at Horton purely by chance out for a walk. I did wonder at the time how fast it was going...
 

cle

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If it was 90mph, then it might be more useful as a cross country link. Leeds to Glasgow might be interesting if there were very few stops. Potentially just Skipton, but even then, it is quite small. Keighley is bigger, but more commuter.

People seem to love Nottingham to Glasgow, which seems arbitrary but I guess it takes in Sheffield too, so would connect 3 decent sized cities to Glasgow. Even starting at Sheffield might be interesting - but still requires a reversal at Leeds.

The issue is simply that the line passes through a lot of sparse country. And even Carlisle isn't that big a destination, and it's 100 miles north to Glasgow. Edinburgh would never be worthwhile vs the ECML.
 

Glenn1969

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Leeds to Glasgow calling Shipley, Keighley, Skipton, Settle, Kirkby Stephen, Appleby and Carlisle as Northern Connect with 2 or 3 a day starting Bradford instead of Leeds maybe?
 

class26

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If it was 90mph, then it might be more useful as a cross country link. Leeds to Glasgow might be interesting if there were very few stops. Potentially just Skipton, but even then, it is quite small. Keighley is bigger, but more commuter.

People seem to love Nottingham to Glasgow, which seems arbitrary but I guess it takes in Sheffield too, so would connect 3 decent sized cities to Glasgow. Even starting at Sheffield might be interesting - but still requires a reversal at Leeds.

The issue is simply that the line passes through a lot of sparse country. And even Carlisle isn't that big a destination, and it's 100 miles north to Glasgow. Edinburgh would never be worthwhile vs the ECML.
There was an article in Modern railways a year or so ago about this and apparently the trackwork is now capable of higher speeds than 60 mph, it is the signalling that needs attention (if I remember correctly?) but no one can seemingly be bothered.
 

class26

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For "no one can seemingly be bothered" read "there is no real business case for investment on this route when their are other high traffic routes in need of upgrades".
My point is that millions and millions have been spent on an upgrade and not achieved much. I can`t imagine that re positioning signals is a massive expense is it ? Not on top of what has already been poured into the line. If the job is worth doing .......
 

ainsworth74

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My point is that millions and millions have been spent on an upgrade and not achieved much. I can`t imagine that re positioning signals is a massive expense is it ? Not on top of what has already been poured into the line. If the job is worth doing .......
The millions that were spent were purely focused on increasing the capacity of the line to carry heavy freight. To re-signal the line to higher linespeeds would likely have added significant additional costs onto a project that was not concerned with speed.
 

hexagon789

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There was an article in Modern railways a year or so ago about this and apparently the trackwork is now capable of higher speeds than 60 mph, it is the signalling that needs attention (if I remember correctly?) but no one can seemingly be bothered.
Possibly more the track - I think the signalling could support higher speeds, but the long sections doesn't aid capacity.
 

30907

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My point is that millions and millions have been spent on an upgrade and not achieved much. I can`t imagine that re positioning signals is a massive expense is it ? Not on top of what has already been poured into the line. If the job is worth doing .......
I haven't got the article to hand, but wasn't the "upgrade" was essentially track/formation renewal to current standards to cope with freight?
 

Glenn1969

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When the WCML is closed would it not help to have the S&C available for diversions north of Hellifield regardless of whether a Leeds or Bradford to Glasgow service is introduced?
 

ainsworth74

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Possibly more the track
Most of the track should be in fairly good nick. Network Rail spent a lot of money around ten years ago to use the S&C as a direct line from Hunterston to the coal fired power stations of Yorkshire and the Midlands.
 

ainsworth74

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When the WCML is closed would it not help to have the S&C available for diversions north of Hellifield regardless of whether a Leeds or Bradford to Glasgow service is introduced?
It would but VT haven't signed it since around 2013/14 as they presumably didn't consider it necessary. So you'd need for them to either resign it or arrange route conductors.
 

tbtc

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People seem to love Nottingham to Glasgow, which seems arbitrary but I guess it takes in Sheffield too, so would connect 3 decent sized cities to Glasgow. Even starting at Sheffield might be interesting - but still requires a reversal at Leeds.

The issue is simply that the line passes through a lot of sparse country. And even Carlisle isn't that big a destination, and it's 100 miles north to Glasgow. Edinburgh would never be worthwhile vs the ECML.
Agreed.

Leeds - Glasgow is currently just over four hours on XC - the service runs bi-hourly.

Leeds - Carlisle is currently around two and a half hours, and you'd need to add over an hour to get up to Glasgow (but that's basing the WCML section on diagrams pathed for a 125mph tilting train, rather than trying to find a path for a Sprinter like Northern Spirit used to).

So even if there were paths on the WCML for a Sprinter, or we found a few spare 125mph DMUs down the back of the sofa (and decided that it'd be a good idea to use them to spend most of their time trundling along the S&C at half their top speed) then it's not going to be much faster than running via Edinburgh...

...and you'd be running a service that has intermediate stops at Skipton/ Settle/ Carlisle rather than York/ Darlington/ Durham/ Newcastle/ Edinburgh...

...so there's not much of a time saving for inter-city journeys and you'd be serving relatively smaller places... it seems a pretty thin business case.

Whereas, one Voyager is all you'd need to increase the Leeds - Glasgow service to hourly during the daytime (i.e. extend the current XC services that terminate in Edinburgh).

(this is all assuming that there's spare paths from Leeds to Skipton, given that the line is already so busy that 331s are being built to permit six coach EMUs to run, and two stations have been built on the line from Leeds to Shipley in recent years)

Feels like, if the S&C had closed in the '80s, it'd be a great cause celebre now, enthusiasts suggesting this amazing future for it, if only we'd re-open it - just think of the untapped demand etc. Whereas, it stayed in operation and (despite record passenger numbers on most lines in the UK) is still just a Sprinter every couple of hours with unremarkable passenger numbers at stations north of Skipton (despite the Leeds commuter market having changed considerably over the past generation). A bit like a rockstar who turned out to be a racist middle aged nonentity, rather than being remembered as a talented hero who died in the "27 club".
 

hexagon789

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Most of the track should be in fairly good nick. Network Rail spent a lot of money around ten years ago to use the S&C as a direct line from Hunterston to the coal fired power stations of Yorkshire and the Midlands.
Then I wonder why it's still a 60mph railway? I believe it used to be 80(?) in steam days.

For such a long and quite important secondary I'd have thought increasing linespeed would be both useful and sensible.
 

ainsworth74

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Then I wonder why it's still a 60mph railway? I believe it used to be 80(?) in steam days.

For such a long and quite important secondary I'd have thought increasing linespeed would be both useful and sensible.
I would assume because they didn't need to in order to deliver the desired outputs.
 

Bald Rick

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Most of the track should be in fairly good nick. Network Rail spent a lot of money around ten years ago to use the S&C as a direct line from Hunterston to the coal fired power stations of Yorkshire and the Midlands.
Some of the track is in good nick, and some isn’t. There is also the small matter of what is underneath the track.
 

Bald Rick

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I can`t imagine that re positioning signals is a massive expense is it ?
It’s not, but the there’s not many people who would benefit. If every passenger using Settle - Armathwaite inclusive chipped in a quid each, you might be able to move one signal a year.
 

Bald Rick

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I must admit I was idly wondering about that being a factor but didn't want to stick me neck out too far!
There was a lot of renewal up there in 2005ish when the coal traffic really got going. Most was done on steel sleepers (to get shot of as much as possible of the frankly knackered timber sleepers and bullhead rail, as quickly possible), but that didn’t do anything for the ballast or formation. Much of that was tackled later. But it’s a long railway.
 

cuccir

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It's a rural line which survives because (1) it happens by hisotrical accident to be a through route rather than a branch (2) its failed closure brought it publicity and made it very well known (3) it has reasonable tourist traffic for hikers (4) it is a very pretty route, although IMO it is no better than much of the less famous Tyne Valley/Cumbria Coast, with the exception of the exceptional Ribblehead Viaduct.

It'd be good to get it to hourly, and if some of those made the trip up to Glasgow then that'd be great too, but I don't think we should be too excited by that prospect and I don't see how it's really necessary.
 

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