All aboard (finally) for Cathedrals Express seaside special

MBTC steam engine
MBTC steam engine

Scores of Bedford trippers who missed out on a steam train journey to Bristol earlier this year when the 90-year-old locomotive “conked out” had the chance to make up for the disappointment last Sunday (Aug 27).

Galatea, a Jubilee class engine that once hauled British Rail expresses, took over on the last leg of a special Cathedrals Express excursion from King’s Cross to the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough.

And many of those left disappointed after the Bristol trip clambered aboard the vintage carriages when the train stopped to pick up passengers at Stevenage and Peterborough.

We were greeted with a glass of champagne and warm croissants at Stevenage before settling back to tuck into a full English breakfast as the countryside flashed by.

Then on the return journey during the evening a three-course dinner with a main course of saddle of lamb and wine was dished up for passengers.

Local train fans have two chances of taking a steam journey over the spectacular Settle to Carlisle line next month (September).

Rival firm West Coast Railways will run the Carlisle Express from Bedford on Wednesday (Sept 6).

This will be hauled by a vintage diesel engine as far as Hellifield in North Yorkshire before a steam loco takes over.

Then the following Saturday (Sep 9) Cathedrals Express have a train from Euston, which will pick up passengers at Milton Keynes, running over the same Settle to Carlisle route.

Seven thousand navvies toiled for four years in appalling conditions during the 19th century to build the Settle-Carlisle line through the rugged Yorkshire Dales.

Several were blown to their deaths by raging winds as they worked on the top of the 24 arch, quarter mile-long Ribblehead Viaduct.

The line goes up to Ais Gill, at 1,169ft the highest point reached by mainline trains in England, before dropping down to Appleby in Cumbria and then descending further into the historic city of Carlisle.

More details at westcoastrailways.co.uk (0844 850 4685) and cathedralsexpress.co.uk (01483 209888).