Top five rail trips
Published 25 September 2020 | Average read time
4 min read
Stories People and the railway Railway heritage

Our railway offers a wealth of striking journeys – as seen in the new series The Architecture the Railways Built.

Here are our top five places to visit as we welcome everyone back to the railway:

The Ffestiniog Railway

It’s almost 200 years old, climbs more than 700 feet from sea level into the Welsh mountains and is just 13 and a half miles long.

We’re proud to share close ties with The Ffestiniog Railway – the world’s oldest narrow-gauge railway and just one of the stories featured in The Architecture the Railway Built on Yesterday.

This living museum stretches from the harbour in Porthmadog, Gwynedd to historic slate mining town Blaenau Ffestiniog in Merionethshire. It passes through forests and waterfalls and chugging round a complete spiral on the way.

The Architecture the Railways Built – The Ffestiniog Railway

The Architecture the Railways Built – interview with presenter Tim Dunn

The National Railway Museum

Take a trip to the historic walled city of York and discover some of Britain’s most important railway artefacts at The National Railway Museum. Its attractions include what was once the country’s busiest signal box.

Network Rail has donated original bricks from the foundations of Borough Market Junction signal box, which moved from London to the National Railway Museum in 1976.

Our donation will help the latest phase of the box’s restoration – an approximately £40,000 project to move it indoors, build a new base and provide access for visitors. Once completed, the box will once again sit at its original height.

Settle-Carlisle line

Another star of The Architecture the Railways Built is the Settle–Carlisle line is one of the world’s most stunning stretches of railway. Enjoy views of the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbrian Fells. You’ll see Victorian architecture, remote station buildings and imposing bridges like the Ribblehead Viaduct, which you can see in this film above.

The Architecture the Railways Built – Ribblehead Viaduct

Carnforth station

This February 2020, we marked 75 years of a British romance classic that today draws thousands of visitors to a small railway station in Lancashire.

The popularity of a tourist attraction at the working Carnforth station follows about £120,000 of grants from The Railway Heritage Trust, which is funded by Network Rail.

Brief Encounter – about two married strangers who fall in love after meeting at a station – was shot at Carnforth between February 5 and February 16 1945, shortly before the end of WWII.

The film has been a significant draw to the area. About 50,000 people visited Carnforth Station Heritage Centre, north of Lancaster, last year, according to its manager, John Adams.

The heritage centre at the station features an exhibition about Brief Encounter. It opened in 2003 after a sensitive restoration of parts of the station, which had become derelict before benefitting from the funding from The Railway Heritage Trust, according to Andy Savage, its executive director.

At Carnforth, the partially trust-funded restoration benefits more than visitors to the heritage centre. The station itself remains open for passenger services so those catching trains can enjoy the improvements.

Click here to find out why Carnforth was chosen to star in this film classic.

The front entrance to Carnforth station and Heritage Centre
Carnforth station in Lancashire – the setting for Brief Encounter

The Borders Railway

A steam train travels along the Borders Railway, daytime
The Borders Railway. Picture credit – Bruce Ball.

When the Borders Railway opened in 2015 it reconnected local communities with Scotland’s capital by rail for the first time since 1969.

The 30-mile route is the UK’s longest new domestic line in more than 100 years. It reversed a controversial closure that had left “a profound sense of sadness” in its wake, according to Bruce Ball, author of The Spirit of the Borders Railway.

Today, the scenic line takes passengers between Tweedbank and Edinburgh in less than an hour. The Borders Railway describes direct transport links as integral to tourism in Scotland, linking the south east of Scotland with rail and air travel across Britain.

Read more: