The world famous Settle-Carlisle line was under threat of almost certain closure in the 1980s but was reprieved on 11 April 1989 following an unprecedented campaign for its retention.
Twenty years on, the line is busier than ever following much investment by Network Rail with support from train operators and other groups. From a low point of just two trains a day it now operates round the clock, carries a massive amount of freight and a high and rising number of passengers. Its scenery is spectacular.
To mark the anniversary, Garsdale station near to the summit of the line is to be re-opened on 11 April after major restoration – 20 years to the day since the parliamentary announcement that saved the line. The completed station will be re-opened by Network Rail's Route Director Jo Kaye who said: “With the help of the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line and the Settle Carlisle Railway Development Company to name just two, this line has gone from strength to strength.
“Rather than being something of a Cinderella line, it is now a major route for coal traffic from Scotland to power stations in Yorkshire and the Midlands, has a regular and growing flow of passengers and, of course, comes into its own when we have to carry out improvement work on the northern section of the west coast route.
“As a mark of our commitment to the line, we are part way through a £60m track replacement programme, and we have invested a further £18m in additional signals to improve train performance. That is the sort of thing that passengers don’t see but what they can appreciate is a station like Garsdale and we are extremely proud of the work we have done to restore it to its former glory.”
On the same occasion, a bronze statue of a Border collie dog Ruswarp (pronounced 'Russup') will be unveiled. Ruswarp was the faithful companion of co-founder of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line (FoSCL), Graham Nuttall. Ruswarp's paw print was accepted as a valid signature of objection to closure – the dog being a fare paying passenger at the time – joining tens of thousands of human signatures of objection. That paw print helped bring the plight of the line to national attention.
Ruswarp again hit the headlines in 1990, following the death of Graham Nuttall whilst he and Ruswarp were hill walking. Ruswarp stayed with the body in the hills for 11 winter weeks before he was found. Ruswarp survived long enough to attend his master's funeral.
FoSCL Chairman Mark Rand said
“Ruswarp has come to symbolise the fight to save the line – and the amazing loyalty of man's best friend. Garsdale was their favourite place so it is fitting that the statue, by the sculptress JOEL Walker, is placed there. We launched a public appeal to fund the statue and the response has been tremendous.”
The statue of Ruswarp will be unveiled by former BR manager Ron Cotton, whose thankless job it had been to close the line and by Mrs Olive Clarke who chaired one of the two public enquiries into the closure.
Notes to editors
You are invited to send representatives to the ceremony at Garsdale station for 1115 on Easter Saturday 11 April 2009
• Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line (FoSCL) Chairman Mark Rand 01729 822930 www.settle-carlisle.co.uk email@example.com
• Former BR manager Ron Cotton 0151 632 4305
• Sculptress JOEL Walker 01664 454987 http://ruswarp.blogspot.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org
About Network Rail
Network Rail is the not for dividend owner and operator of Britain's railway infrastructure, which includes the tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, level crossings and stations - the largest of which we also manage. We aim to provide a safe, reliable and efficient rail infrastructure for freight and passenger trains to use. www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk