Former transport minister Michael Portillo will take part in special anniversary celebrations in Settle tomorrow.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the saving of the Settle-Carlisle railway line, a special locomotive will travel from Leeds to Carlisle, via Settle.

Aboard its nine carriages will be hundreds of people, including many who campaigned to keep the railway open.

Mark Rand, former chairman of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Railway Line, said church bells would ring in the town and flags would fly – as they did 25 years ago.

“It is hugely important that today’s generation remember that this magnificent railway was once doomed to disappear forever.”

Mr Rand said the aim was for Settle to make a big impression on all those on the train, which is due to arrive in the town at just before 11am.

“We are asking parents and children to come to Settle station for 10.55am tomorrow and to bring with them something red to wave at the train – Railway Children-style.”

For all the children taking part, there will be a souvenir keepsake from the station shop.

The announcement on April 11, 1989 that the line would not close followed years of campaigning. Since then, the line has prospered beyond all expectations.

Richard Morris, current chairman of the Friends, said: “Even the most optimistic in 1989 could not have imagined how successful the line would be.

“If success is measured in passenger numbers and the volume of freight traffic, then the figures speak for themselves.”

The Settle-Carlisle is recognised as one of the world’s greatest railway journeys.

Most of the intermediate stations have re-opened and the Victorian station buildings have been renovated. The iconic Ribblehead viaduct, once condemned, has been restored and is the highlight of the journey for many.

Route managing director for Network Rail Dyan Crowther said: “The line is one of the most beautiful in Britain and will continue to be an important part of the railway in the north of England.”

Alex Hynes, managing director of Northern Rail, added: “The Settle to Carlisle line is a vital part of the bustling and vibrant towns and villages that stretch across the Pennines and along the Dales – and they’re growing. We’re now carrying 1.3 million passengers every year. It’s hard to think what could have happened to these communities 25 years ago if the proposed closure had gone ahead.”

For more about the campaign to save the line, read our history feature on page 32.