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“Recognising milestones is not only nostalgic, it also reminds us of how far we’ve come as an industry.”

Mark Green, Avanti West Coast Station Manager at Penrith, reflects on Cumbria's railways as they reach 175-year milestone. 

23 December 2021

As the railway community and local people of Cumbria celebrate 175 years since the first train travelled from Lancaster to Carlisle, Avanti West Coast Station Manager, Mark Green, explains why this 69-mile stretch of railway holds a special place in his heart.

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This stretch of the West Coast Main Line (WCML) means a lot to me. My first trip on a train was to Morecambe via Lancaster as an eight-year-old, and I remember being in total awe of the experience from the moment I set foot in Carlisle station to reaching Morecambe. 

Eight years later, I began my railway career on the platforms at Carlisle station - joining the Railway Training Scheme after seeing an advert in the local newspaper. I’ve held various roles at Carlisle and Penrith and to still have a connection to this part of our route after 31 years is fantastic. The scenery is amazing – particularly when travelling early morning as the sun is rising over the Lake District.

"Both stations have a rich history, and many locals have a family connection to the railway."

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Lots has changed since I first began working on the railway – from how tickets are bought and presented, to the fleet of trains, and frequency of services between Scotland and London. I was lucky enough to have worked on board during the introduction of the Pendolino trains – it was like being propelled into the modern age when compared to the British Rail Mark 3 carriages. 

The introduction of the very high frequency timetable in 2009 is one of the fondest memories of my railway career. With increased capacity on the WCML and more frequent trains to and from London, it was a game-change for us and involved a lot of work planning the service and recruitment.

Reminiscing about the eras of the past by recognising milestones is not only nostalgic, it also reminds us of how far we’ve come as an industry. The changes to rolling stock and the technological advances that have been made over 175 years is tremendous.

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For Carlisle and Penrith, the railway provides connectivity to the UK’s towns and cities. It also opens up opportunities within Cumbria for leisure and business, which is important for the communities. Both stations have a rich history, and many locals have a family connection to the railway. This generates a sense of pride within the community.

My favourite thing about being on the railway is the people – my colleagues and our customers. I’m interested in people and what they’re up to, so being able to engage with them every day at our stations is ideal. 

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Working with current teams, past railway workers and the community to mark the 175th Anniversary has highlighted how the railway makes a lasting impression on everyone, and the important role rail travel has played and continues to this day.

Images (Top to bottom): Mark Green at Carlisle station; Mark Green onboard a Pendolino train in 2006; Mark Green on platform at Carlisle station; Celebrating 175 years of the Lancaster and Carlisle railway (L - R): Ken Harper (Trustee at Cumbrian Railways Association); Katie Smith (Avanti West Coast Customer Service Assistant); Mark Green; Philip Tuer (Chairman of Cumbrian Railways Association); Moira Wilson (ex-railway worker)