While this paper concentrates on rail services, we strongly believe that there should be a fully-integrated public transport system involving services by both bus and rail.  We ensure that the bus services of our own subsidiary, the Dales & Bowland Community Interest Company, link with the various rail services to and within the Dales.

There are several railways within or serving the Yorkshire Dales:

  • The Settle Carlisle Line has been designated a conservation area because of its historic and scenic interest.  It is part of the national rail network, with the infrastructure owned and managed by Network Rail. YDS played a part in the campaign for its retention when closure was threatened in the 1980s.  There are timetabled passenger services and also general freight services.  In addition quarry products are carried from the quarries around Horton-in-Ribblesdale, and timber from forestry operations is carried from the sidings at Ribblehead. 
  • The Wensleydale Railway is a heritage railway in Wensleydale, run largely by volunteers. The line formerly ran from Northallerton to Garsdale (previously known as Hawes Junction) on the Settle-Carlisle Railway, but the track between Redmire and Garsdale has been lifted and several bridges and viaducts demolished.  Now the line runs 22 miles (35km) between Northallerton West station and Redmire.  Occasional freight services and excursions travel the full length of the line, and regular passenger services operate between Northallerton West and Redmire. There are plans to extend the line through Castle Bolton to Aysgarth over the next few years.
  • The Yorkshire Dales Railway originally ran between Ilkley and Threshfield (with a connection to Skipton), but the only remaining track is between Skipton and Swinden Quarry via Embsay. The sole user of the track is Loadhaul Ltd which operates the quarry services.  The Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway runs over part of the former Skipton-Ilkley section of the line.  This is a volunteer-run preserved heritage railway.
  • The Bentham Line (Leeds to Lancaster & Morecambe) is part of the national rail network.  It is very picturesque, with excellent views into the Dales and towards the Forest of Bowland.  There are currently no freight service on this line, but it can be used by passengers travelling to several stations on the edge of the Dales.
  • The Skipton-Colne Line no longer exists on the ground, but there are pressures to re-instate it. In terms of potential passenger numbers, if this was reopened and electrified to permit through running on the Airedale Line, it could make a massive difference to the economics of the region, and would also offer great new access to and from the Dales.

Our Policies

  • We are supportive of public transport that provides facilities to residents and visitors alike.
  • We recognise that the railway lines in the Dales are part of the valuable heritage of the National Park. As well as transporting people within the Dales, the railways bring visitors from further afield.
  • We support the expanded use of the rail network for goods traffic, especially when it would reduce the amount of freight transported by road.
  • We are supportive of CNP’s Transport Policy which states that “any major new rail infrastructure should be designed to take account of National Park purposes”.
  • With our limited resources, we cannot initiate our own campaigns in this area, but we actively support a number of rail-oriented volunteer-led campaigning groups.
  • We believe that the track beds of former railways should be retained and developed as recreational routes for walking and cycling.
  • We believes that all train (and bus) services should have adequate facilities for the transport of bikes.

What we will do

The Settle-Carlisle Line

  • We will commend the action of Tarmac in restoring the rail connection from its Arcow and Dry Rigg Quarries, and will continue to press Hanson to make a similar connection for its Horton Quarry and to transport a higher proportion of the products of its Ingleton Quarry from the sidings at Ribblehead.
  • We will support the work of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line (FoSCL), in particular their efforts (and those of the Friends of the Blackburn to Hellifield Line) to connect the line to Lancashire and Manchester through developing passenger services on the existing Clitheroe-Hellifield line, and to make the stations at Settle and Appleby more attractive to passengers by the provision of appropriate shelters.
  • We will continue to support the “Ride2Stride” programmes to encourage walking from stations on the Line.

The Wensleydale Railway

  • We will support the existing passenger operation of the Wensleydale Railway Association (Trust) and its expansion plans, so long as the construction work has a minimal impact, and the resulting railway infrastructure (including buildings) is to a similar high standard to that of the Settle-Carlisle Line.

The Yorkshire Dales Railway

  • We will support the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway in providing an attraction just outside of the National Park and thus encouraging visitors to the area.
  • We will support the maximum use of the rail link for mineral transport from the Swinden quarry.

The Bentham Line

  • We will support the work of the Lancaster & Skipton Rail User Group (LASRUG).  In particular, we will advocate better links to from Ingleton and Kirkby Lonsdale (and into the Forest of Bowland).

The Skipton-Colne Line

  • We will liaise with the local pressure group, Skipton East Lancs Rail Action Partnership (SELRAP) in their efforts towards the restoration of this line.  We will urge that current recreational use of the route is retained alongside any future use by rail traffic.