We are running this special train to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of Standard Gauge steam haulage on British Railways, the famous 1T57 ‘15 Guinea special’, that ran on the 11th August 1968.
We have a high speed journey down the West Coast Main Line to Carnforth hauled by a blue class 86 electric locomotive. We then enjoy a circular steam tour outwards via Shap to Carlisle and back via the Settle and Carlisle line. We return from Farington Junction to London behind our blue electric locomotive.
We leave London Euston at around 07:10 with electric traction, and speed north along the West Coast Main Line (WCML). We stop to pick up passengers at Milton Keynes (where passengers from Watford Junction join by service train), Rugby (where passengers from Northampton join by service train), Nuneaton and Crewe. We continue north along the WCML to Preston, our final stop to pick up passengers.
We continue through Lancaster to Carnforth, where we change motive power to a steam traction from a pool of locomotives based at Carnforth. The former steam locomotive depot of 10A still exists as an operational base for the West Coast Railway Company and was on eof the last depots open at the end of steam in 1968. Leaving Carnforth, our steam locomotive will be working hard when we climb the first severe gradient up to Grayrigg. We then travel through the beautiful Lune Gorge to Tebay, gaining speed for the ascent to Shap. This well-known section of the WCML has a gradient of 1 in 75 and, in the former days of steam locomotives, banking engines from Tebay were often used to assist trains. After crossing the Cumbrian Fells we descend to Penrith, and then head for Carlisle. There will be around two hours in Carlisle, providing time to explore this ancient ‘Border’ city with its castle, cathedral, Tullie House Museum, and shopping centre.
We leave Carlisle and join the Settle & Carlisle Railway, one of the most well known and best loved stretches of railway line in Britain. We soon begin climbing, and then at Appleby, we stop for our steam locomotive to take on water. The climbing continues through scenic Kirkby Stephen towards the highest railway summit in England at Ais Gill, 1169 feet above sea level. It was here in 1968 that thousands gathered to watch the passage of the ‘15 Guinea Special’ ran by BR as its last steam operated Standard Gauge train. We pass over tall viaducts, including the famous one at Ribblehead, and through numerous tunnels. There are magnificent views across the Fells and to the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. We should have a fast run out of the hills, through Settle, until we stop again for our locomotive to take on water.
Our journey continues through Hellifield, Clitheroe and Blackburn, where passengers for Preston leave the train. We join the WCML at Farington Junction, having said goodbye to our steam locomotive. We pass though Wigan and Warrington en route to Crewe hauled by our blue class 86 electric locomotive with a fast run to Milton Keynes via Birmingham New Street expected. We will stop at the same stations as on the outward journey to set down passengers.
*Passengers from Watford Junction will travel to Milton Keynes by service train to join our train.
**Passengers from Northampton will travel to and from Rugby by service train to join our train.
*** Passengers boarding at Preston will return to Preston by service train from Blackburn.
Premier Dining includes a full English breakfast, light lunch and a four course dinner silver served at your seat.
First Class includes morning coffee with a variety of tulip muffins and afternoon tea with a savoury of the day followed by a selection of cakes and fancies.
Standard Class includes a reserved seat usually at a table for four.
A buffet car is available and serves tea, coffee, snacks and light refreshments. Tables for two can be guaranteed in first class and premier dining for a supplement of £25 per person. (subject to availability)
Approximate timings shown