We’re delighted to confirm a year-long programme – Railway 200 – to celebrate 200 years of train travel in 2025.
200 years of passenger train travel
Did you know that on 27 September 1825, the world’s first passenger train, hauled by George Stephenson’s Locomotion No.1, carried more than 400 people along the Stockton and Darlington Railway? The landmark event drew crowds of up to 40,000 people and marked the birth of modern passenger train travel.
Darren Caplan, chief executive of trade body the Railway Industry Association, said: “It is hard to overstate the benefits that the railway has brought, and continues to bring, not just to the UK, but also globally, since 1825. Rail networks don’t just keep people connected, they also play a crucial role in spurring economic growth, creating jobs, boosting sustainability, and bringing together local communities.”
A year-long celebration
The team behind Railway 200 is proud to work with several industry partners in preparation for this momentous landmark year in 2025.
Railway 200 partners reflect the diverse nature of the programme including: Network Rail, Stockton & Darlington Bicentenary Festival, Great British Railways Transition Team, National Skills Academy for Rail, Rail Delivery Group, Rail Forum, HS2, the Railway Industry Association, the Heritage Railway Association, the National Railway Museum, and the Community Rail Network.
Railway 200 is also working with partners from outside the industry to highlight the influence the railway has had on culture art and society.
Jacqueline Starr, chief executive of trade body Rail Delivery Group, called it, “a chance for the rail industry to celebrate our history and look to the future.”
Railway 200 will kick off in January 2025 and bring a wide variety of activities, initiatives and partnerships for you to enjoy.
Elaine Clark, chief executive officer of Rail Forum, said: “It provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase all that the railway has done over the last 200 years.”
Bridging the skills gap
The programme aims to inspire the next generation. The Railway 200 team is considering a wide variety of activities, initiatives and partnerships, including commemorative products. This will enable Railway 200 to celebrate rail’s remarkable past, recognise its importance today, and look forward to its future.
Peter, Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill, chair of Railway 200 and Network Rail, said: “The world changed forever in 1825 and the 200th anniversary of this first passenger train journey is an historic opportunity to reset the public’s relationship with rail. It is our chance to present the railway as a forward thinking, digital industry and as an attractive career option for young people and for people from many different backgrounds.
“For Railway 200 to reach its full potential, we must harness the knowledge and efforts of the whole industry, so I hope you will join us in creating a programme of celebrations which will recognise this great British achievement, the first public passenger train in the world, while inspiring a new generation to take our innovative railway far into the future.”
Neil Robertson, chief executive of the National Skills Academy (Rail), hopes “it will leave a lasting legacy, helping to inspire a new generation of young people to choose the railway as their career choice.”
A unique exhibition train
Exciting plans are already underway by National Railway Museum and Porterbrook for an exhibition train. This unique train will travel around the network in Britain to bring the celebration to you.
The train will be made up of different exhibitions and interactive elements. It aims to raise awareness of the opportunities that a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) can offer.
Not just for the rail industry
The programme is even working with partners from outside the industry to highlight the influence the railway has on other parts of life.
In fact, the Railway 200 team will provide toolkits to support local activities. The team may be able to help, whether it be opening facilities to the public, or school and community outreach sessions aimed at inspiring a career in rail.
Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “We’re looking forward to celebrating the inspiring work taking place across Britain’s thriving community rail movement as part of Railway 200.”
Stockton & Darlington Bicentenary Festival
Railway 200 has also partnered with Stockton & Darlington Bicentenary Festival, which will host a nine-month international festival developed right in the heart of the area where the first historic passenger rail journey took place.
Find out more: www.sdr200.co.uk
For more information on how you can support Railway 200, visit www.Railway200.co.uk.