The Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line was formed in the early 1980s as a campaign group to save the Settle-Carlisle Line from closure. This campaign achieved national fame and was ultimately successful in 1989 when the line was reprieved.
Since then there has been a variety of campaigns, large and small, on behalf of rail users.
The Hellifield Clitheroe line:
Our research so far has shown a demand for more services on this line as follows:
- There is a potential demand for travel to and from the Settle Carlisle corridor to Manchester Airport of several thousand journeys per year based on a 2009 CAA survey on air transport in the UK.
- A survey from Appleby Grammar School confirms the demand for rail services to Manchester Airport which is currently satisfied by costly taxis or car usage.
- Ramblers from Manchester and Bolton would like to use a service to the Yorkshire Dales.
- Anecdotal evidence from several sources in Settle and Hellifield confirms a strong interest in travel to Manchester for shopping, entertainment and work.
- Plus the fact that there is an existing line, under-utilised! There is No need for large amounts of capital to update the present infrastructure.
What could be achieved.
- Manchester, Bolton and Clitheroe only have connections to the Yorkshire Dales on Sundays during the summer season. A yearly round service would improve this situation
- A quicker and cheaper journey for people living in the Settle corridor travelling to Manchester Airport. This journey usually involves travel to Leeds changing onto a busy TransPennine train.
- Residents of the Yorkshire Dales & the Eden Valley could have access to Manchester and its shopping, entertainment and work.
- Clitheroe travellers to Scotland have to change at Blackburn and Preston when they could enjoy a more direct service via the scenic Settle and Carlisle line.
- Travel to Skipton and Leeds from Clitheroe could also be improved by connecting Clitheroe to Hellifield.
Dual track is currently used by DalesRail summer Sunday services, freight trains and charter services but has not had weekday passenger services for several decades.
WHY should you be interested in this campaign? Connecting the Manchester Clitheroe line with the Settle Carlisle line would fill a yawning gap in the national network of rail lines, linking the Yorkshire Dales with Manchester.
Improvements to the passenger service: the new timetable in May 2018 was the biggest change in 25 years. There are a few more services and on balance we think it's a step forward. It could still be improved and we have an ongoing campaign to achieve this.
Two extra trains each way on a Sunday bringing the total to six each way, not brilliant but a big step forward from the four each way that we had up until now. Thanks DfT for specifying this in the franchise and Northern for implementing it on time.
The weekday timetable sees the addition of a 1649 departure from Leeds to plug the 3 1/4 hour gap that we used to have. Now visitors from the northern end of the line can have a day out in Leeds, Bradford, Saltaire or the Worth Valley and come back at a sensible time. FoSCL made the case for this extra train to the DfT who put it in the franchise spec. Thanks to them and congrats to Northern on implementing it 18 months before it was mandatory.
This train returns from Carlisle to Leeds at 2018, a big step forward from the previous last train at 1814. It currently does not stop at Armathwaite and Lazonby and it is hoped that this will be rectified in May 2019.
Diversions from the West Coast Main Line: the WCML is all too often blocked between Preston and Carlisle, usually due to a fault with the overhead wires. Passengers are forced to queue for rail replacement buses, sometimes in the rain. At Carlisle they clog up the parking area at the front of the station. For several years now we have been campaigning for Virgin (now Avanti) and Trans-Pennine Express trains to be diverted via Clitheroe and Hellifield and along the Settle-Carlisle Line to Carlisle. For planned engineering work Virgin used to do this, either using Voyagers, or Pendolinos hauled by their Class 57 Thunderbirds - which of course were sold off. We have been faced with one excuse after another: basically it's too difficult or too expensive. We shall continue the campaign...
Integrated Transport in the Settle-Carlisle corridor: we are strongly supportive of rural bus services which connect with the railway line. There is hardly any funding from either Cumbria County Council or North Yorkshire County Council. FoSCL has contributed but we can't do it all ourselves. An excellent and comprehensive paper on integrated transport has been written by John Carey, FoSCL Committee Member. Read more.