THE 50th anniversary of the end of British Railways steam passenger services is due to be marked on Saturday with a steam special across the Settle and Carlisle Line.

‘The Cumbrian Mountain Express’, organised by The Railway Touring Company, will be steam hauled across the iconic route on the same date as BR’s last steam passenger service, in 1968.

Exactly 50 years ago on August 11 the now legendary ‘15 Guinea Special’, so called as the pre-decimal price of a ticket was 15 guineas, went down in rail history as the last standard gauge steam hauled passenger service, and it too steamed over the challenging Settle and Carlisle Line.

The Craven Herald at the time reported how four locomotives were used to pull the train of 11 coaches on its 314 mile, 12 hour journey from Liverpool to Carlisle and back.

Some 450 people each paid 15gns to go on the final journey, which included a champagne lunch ‘high on the Yorkshire Moors’. Thousands lined the route to Carlisle, reported the paper, while cars caused traffic jams in the narrow roads around Settle and Hellifield.

Nigel Dobbing, managing director of The Railway Touring Company, said thousands gathered in 1968 to witness the end of steam along the Settle and Carlisle route and the passage of the BR 15 Guinea Special.

“Fortunately, a number of fine steam locomotives were saved from the scrapyard and it’s wonderful to see these magnificent feats of British engineering still at work on our railways hauling steam specials,” he said.

“This rail excursion commemorates the end of regular BR passenger steam services, but also celebrates the fact that we continue to be able to experience the ‘Golden Age’ of mainline steam travel today.”

The Cumbrian Mountain Express will set off from London Euston hauled by an electric locomotive for the journey north stopping at Milton Keynes, Rugby, Nuneaton, Crewe and Preston before reaching Carnforth where an historic steam locomotive, expected to be 45699 Galatea, will take over for the dramatic Cumbrian Fells crossing to Carlisle.

After a break, the commemorative train will leave Carlisle by steam to cross the Settle and Carlisle Line, including the route’s steep, challenging climbs, long tunnels through hillsides, views of the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct.

The touring company’s Waverley service, travelling from York, Leeds, Shipley, Keighley and Skipton, is also due to steam over the Settle and Carlisle line on Saturday, and is expected to be hauled by 45690 Leander.

If the weekend remains dry, as a precaution against track side fires, both trains will be travelling with a diesel locomotive tucked in behind the steam locomotive during the majority of the time.

To book a place on one of the commemorative trips, visit The Railway Touring Company website at: or call 01553 661500.