Old Greater Anglia trains have new life on Britain’s first tourist express
PUBLISHED: 19:00 22 July 2020
When Greater Anglia replaced its traditional Intercity trains with new Stadler modern trains at the start of this year, it looked like the end for its carriages which had carried millions of passengers for many years.
Some have been scrapped. Some have ended up at preserved railways like the East Dereham-based Mid Norfolk Railway – but some have found a new role at the heart of Britain’s first “tourist train” carrying passengers through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales on the world-famous Settle to Carlisle railway line.
Four first class carriages have been modernised, made Covid-secure with the installation of perspex screens between groups of seats, and have entered service between Skipton in Yorkshire and Appleby in Westmorland. The carriages have seats aligned with windows and PA systems so a commentator can point out landmarks on the 112-mile round trip.
The trains are hauled by a pair of vintage diesel locomotives built in the 1960s – types which were once familiar in East Anglia.
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The train, dubbed the Staycation Express, is the first of its type in the country operated specifically for tourists by Rail Charter Services which also operates steam specials on Britain’s rail network.
It was planned before the coronavirus crisis – and there has already been considerable interest from people who have switched to a UK holiday this year.
Rail Charter Services director Adrian Quine is originally from Suffolk and said there was a great contrast between the carriages old journeys and their new role.
He said: “Before they went to East Anglia they were used on the express trains from London to Glasgow through the north west so they have come full circle – but after decades on the Norwich/Ipswich/London route they are now giving tourists a very different experience to that of the London commuters!”
If the venture proves successful, he said his company might look at trying to run tourist trains in other parts of the country, including East Anglia.
He said: “There are some lovely lines in the region, along the Suffolk coast and up to the Broads – but there is nothing decided yet. This is a new concept linking tourist centres and giving tourists a good day out. It’s not a typical railtour where you spend all day on the train, it gives passengers time to visit two tourist centres.”
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