NEARLY 80 years after steam engine Galatea used to thunder through Skipton hauling crack London-Scotland expresses like the Thames-Clyde Express and the Waverley is running over part of the same route again this summer.

The crimson-painted Jubilee Class locomotive will be coupled up at Hellifield to haul day-trippers aboard the special Dalesman train on the last lap of its journey from York over the Settle-Carlisle line.

The train with its restored former British Rail carriages – some of the oldest still working in the country – will operate on most Thursdays from this month until September.

Excited railway enthusiasts and photographers are expected to throng stations along the route to get a glimpse of it.

A spokesman for West Coast Railways, which is are running the service, said: “The Settle to Carlisle route is reckoned to be one of the most spectacular train journeys in Britain, if not the world.

“And tickets are selling fast for our Dalesman service this summer, especially with the prospect of Galatea, which is named after a character in Greek mythology, pulling the train.”

The Dalesman will be set out from York hauled by a vintage locomotive, picking up passengers at Normanton, Wakefield Kirkgate, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds Central and Skipton.

The 80-ton Galatea, with its huge 7ft wheels, was a familiar sight in the Yorkshire area for many years, being based at railway sheds at Millhouses, Sheffield, and then Holbeck, Leeds.

Numbered 45699, it was withdrawn from service by British in 1964 and sold to a scrapyard in Wales. But fortunately it was saved by railway enthusiasts and carefully restored before being pressed back into service pulling special excursion trains around Britain.

Passenger Charlie Garth, who travelled on the train last year, said: “It was a wonderful day out chugging through the beautiful Yorkshire countryside behind a clanking, wheezing and hissing steam train.

“Everybody hates the commuter rail journey to work, but there’s something magical about a steam train.

“You’re immediately transported back to the golden days of rail travel. It’s a real adventure.”

West Coast Railways are also running a Scarborough Spa Express train over part of the same route this summer to the popular east coast seaside resort.

This will be diesel-hauled from Carnforth, picking up passengers at Hellifield, Skipton, Keighley, Shipley, Woodlesford and York, where a steam locomotive will take over.

Fares on the two trains start at £39 return for adults, and £15 for children in standard class. First class fares start at £59 for adults, £30 for children. Premier dining, which includes a full English breakfast on the outward journey and a slap-up dinner on the way home, costs from £219.

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