The Railways of Cumbria and the Lake District

The Railways of Cumbria and the Lake District

Network Railways

The West Coast Main Line runs from London though Preston to 3 stations in Cumbria –
Oxenholme, Penrith, and Carlisle, then on to Glasgow.
There is a connecting service from Oxenholme to Kendal and Windermere.
The famous Carlisle and Settle Railway brings you to a variety of stations in Cumbria from its starting station at Leeds to its ending at Carlisle.
There is a route from Newcastle to Carlisle – roughly following the route of Hadrian’s Wall, and a slow but scenic route up the west coast from Lancaster and Carnforth, through Barrow, Whitehaven, Workington and on to Carlisle.
The following network railways operate in Cumbria:

Carlisle and Settle Line Carlisle,
Kirkby Stephen,
and stations to Leeds.

West Coast Main Line Carlisle,
Oxenholme (& to the midlands, the south, & Glasgow)

Cumbrian Coast Line All stations from Carlisle to Barrow along the coast via Maryport, Workington, Whitehaven,
St Bees, Sellafield,
Millom and Foxfield
Continues to Carnforth via Ulverston, Grange-Over-Sands and

The Lakes Line Oxenholme,
Burneside, Staveley,

Tyne Valley Line Carlisle,
and stations to Newcastle.

Typical journey times by train to Penrith (approximate centre of Cumbria) from:

  • London – about 3.5 hours
  • Birmingham – about 2.5 hours
  • Manchester – about 2 hours
  • Newcastle – about 2.5 hours
  • Glasgow – about 1.5 hours

Preserved tourist railways

There are several railway preservation societies operating in Cumbria and the Lake District, usually operating steam trains, though sometimes with diesel.

Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway
South Tynedale Railway
Kirkby Stephen East Heritage Centre


Eden Valley Railway

Steam Specials on the Cumbrian Railway Lines

Charter steam trains often run over the Carlisle to Settle main line, and occasionally on the West Coast Main Line, or the West Cumbria Coast line. See here for some recent trips.


The Tornado at Ribblehead Viaduct.

Redundant railways now used as footpaths/cyclepaths

History of Railways in Cumbria

While the decline of Cumbria’s railway network began long before Beeching, by the 1990s it began an amazing recovery with the reopening of many stations, and the restoration of many freight services. Today, there is an upgraded West Coast main line and much improved, and accelerated services, but once upon a time there was a huge network which operated at a much more relaxed – and refined – pace.
Many of the Cumbrian railway lines closed due to the decline in the industries that they serviced so well during their heyday such as coal mining, iron ore mining, and steelmaking, along with the closures recommended in the Beeching Report in the early 1960s.
In 1974 the County of Cumbria was formed from Cumberland, Westmorland, the detached northern part of Lancashire and parts of the West Riding of Yorkshire.
The following websites give much information about railway companies that have, over the years, served Cumbria and its borders.
On this website :

On external websites :

Wikipedia Links – current network :

Wikipedia Links – History :

The restored signal box at Armathwaite Station.

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