80-year-old steam train to launch from Bedford in historic journey

Galatea in steam
Galatea in steam

An 80-year-old steam locomotive that once thundered through Bedford pulling the crack Waverley Express from London to Edinburgh will haul a special train from the town along one of the world’s most scenic railway routes next month.

Former LMS Jubilee Class engine Galatea will take over for the final leg of the journey through the Yorkshire Dales and over the spectacular quarter of a mile-long Ribbleshead Viaduct from Settle to Carlisle.

Six thousand navvies toiled for six years during the 19th century to build the 14 tunnels and 22 viaducts on the 73-mile line between the two towns. It was considered an engineering masterpiece of its time. But sadly, hundreds of the workers perished in the harsh conditions.

As well as the 24-arch Ribbleshead viaduct, trains must also pass through the mile and a quarter-long Blea Moor Tunnel before reaching the summit of Ais Gill, the highest point of any mainline railway route in England.

Maroon-painted Galatea spent 16 years in a scrap yard after being withdrawn from service by British Rail in 1964 before being restored to her former glory by railway enthusiasts.

For the last five years she has been regularly hauling special excursion trains around Britain.

The Pendle Dalesman train’s restored British Rail carriages will be hauled by a vintage diesel locomotive from Bedford on Wednesday October 10.

It will pick up more passengers at Wellingborough, Kettering, Leicester, Loughborough and Chesterfield, before Galatea is coupled up at Hellifiled.

A full English breakfast will be served on the outward journey, with a four-course, silver service dinner on the way home. Return fares start at £79.

More details from www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/railtours/trips/660-Bedford-Carlisle-2018.cfm or phone 0844 850 3137.