Would you Settle for Carlisle
Have you been on the Settle to Carlisle railway line? It’s not exactly a heritage line, but it seems a bit like one. In normal times there are regular services, but occasionally they will have a steam engine doing its thing.
It is a fantastic feat of Victorian engineering. Many thought it could not be achieved, and even some of those who initially backed it had second thoughts. But the track of 72 miles was successfully laid over some of the toughest terrain in Britain between 1870 and 1875.
James Allport Manager of the Midland Railway company said it was the most difficult thing he had done in his life. With John Crossley, chief engineer, he had walked the route in 1865. They had FAITH that it could be done (even if sometimes they must have had their doubts). The first train ran 10 years later. What a vindication of their faith!
And along with faith goes tenacity and determination. I guess the bosses/managers were not doing the tough back-breaking digging and building, with the associated injuries and deaths. But everyone involved in their own ways had to keep going, to graft.
Beeching said in 1963 that the line was uneconomical, but, thanks to protest, it managed to limp on. In early 1980’s BR said it intended to close the line. BUT, NO!! stations were re-opened, and in 1989 – 11 April - it was formally announced that the line had been reprieved!! That too shows tenacity and determination in modern times.
The line imposed order on an unruly landscape.We are to do the same in our lives! The line smooths out the huge ups and downs of the hills and valleys so that the gradient never exceeds 1 in 100. It was and is a top quality line suitable for all trains to use.
Sometimes the line crosses deep ravines with viaducts. There are 17 main viaducts in all. Without that sort of strong support progress would be impossible. Message? We all need support for dealing with the “lows” in life.
There are 14 tunnels. Blea Moor tunnel is about a mile and a half long and took 5 years to dig out. This was reckoned to be the most challenging obstacle to constructing the railway line.
Sometimes we have to face a problem head on. If we can’t go round a problem we have to accept the challenge of the sheer sweat of digging/blasting through with a tunnel!
Remember: it is the route/line that is orderly. The hills and valleys and obstacles are still there!! That is a model of the Christian life. All around we see pain and sadness and bad things, but we try to model the serenity and composure Jesus showed.