The railway is a popular visitor attraction in the Lake District, with the majority of its annual passenger numbers coming during the summer months. The entire single journey takes 40 minutes from end-to-end. Passengers can choose between open and covered seating, with some saloon coaches being fitted with heaters for the winter months. There are over a hundred regular volunteers that help with the running of the railways, which include guarding the trains, carriage shunting and selling tickets.
The original Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway was a line opened on 24 May 1875 to transport hematite iron ore from mines around Boot to the Furness Railway standard gauge line at Ravenglass. It was forced to close in April 1913, due to decline in demand for iron ore and small volumes of passengers in summer. In 1915 it was converted to 15 inch gauge track and reopened. As well as passengers, the line transported granite between Beckfoot Quarry and Murthwaite crushing plant. Quarrying at Beckfoot finished in 1953, leaving the line
dependent on passenger traffic. From 1958 attempts were made to sell the line, and it was expected that if these failed then the line would close at the end of the 1960 season.
The railway was sold by auction in September of that year.
Locals and railway enthusiasts formed Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Preservation Society to save the line, with financial backing by Sir Wavell Wakefield, MP for Marylebone and owner of the Ullswater Steamers, and Colin Gilbert, a stockbroker. The railway was owned and operated by a private company, with the backing of the preservation society, an arrangement that is still in place. Since the 1960s, the railway has improved and visitors have increased, today, there are 120,000 passengers each year with up to 16 trains daily in summer. Trains run most of the year. ** I've made an error in the edit and one 15 seconds sequence is repeated later in the video.