The truth behind ghost trains

The railway is often the setting for spooky stories, but here’s one you may not have heard before. Did you know the UK rail network plays host to almost 40 ghost trains…and they don’t just run at Halloween!

Ghost trains – also known as parliamentary trains – date back to the 1960s and are services that run over a line – or stop at a station – so infrequently that they often go unnoticed.

They do serve another purpose, though: keeping them running ensures the railway line remains open, making it easier to bring it back into use again in the future if circumstances change.

Graham Cross, MD of SLC Investments, explains more: “To close a line, you need to follow a statutory process, which concludes with the Secretary of State making a formal decision to close it. It’s often cheaper and easier to run the minimum number of services to keep a line open – which can be just once a week in one direction!

“But one person’s ghost train is another person’s future opportunity. We’ve seen this with the Halton Curve, which was brought back into use after having no regular passenger services for more than four decades. This is now linking north Wales, Cheshire and Liverpool, benefiting the regions and reducing congestion on our roads.”

Exploring opportunities that already exist will always be cheaper than starting from scratch. SLC is currently working on the Northumberland Line project to bring back a lost line that is currently only used for freight between Ashington and Newcastle.

SLC has experts that understand the complex world of rail and the potential of forgotten lines to support future aspirations.