The Elizabeth Gaskell Train

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From the Northern Rail website
Pic: Northern Rail
George Osborne, MP, unveils the train’s new name

A train, named after Elizabeth Gaskell, was unveiled at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station on 28 February 2014.

A ceremony, organised in conjunction with Mid-Cheshire Community Rail Partnership, saw Northern’s Managing Director, Alex Hynes and George Osborne MP unveil the train’s nameplate and give speeches to pay tribute to the Cheshire-based author.

The train is a 156 Northern unit and will travel the network around Greater Manchester and Cheshire, the inspiration for much of Ms Gaskell’s work, such as Cranford. Alex Hynes comments: “We name some of our trains after ‘Great Northerners’ and Elizabeth Gaskell certainly fits that description. Her work has left a legacy on this part of the world and we are delighted to be able to honour her in this way.”

George Osborne said “I was delighted to be invited to name one of Northern Rail’s diesel trains “Elizabeth Gaskell”, particularly as the train will travel on the mid-Cheshire line through Knutsford, which is the basis for her novel Cranford.  A large crowd gathered at Piccadilly station, including members of the Gaskell Society, members of the Mid-Cheshire Rail Users Association and representatives from the Heritage Centre to watch the unveiling of the plaque.”

Sally Buttifant, Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership, said: “We are really pleased that there is now a Northern Rail train named after Elizabeth Gaskell. We hope that people will journey along the Mid Cheshire line, the line that she wrote about, and follow in her footsteps exploring Knutsford, the town she called Cranford.”

Ann O’Brien of the Gaskell Society added: “We are delighted Elizabeth Gaskell is being recognised by the outside world. It is a remarkable coincidence that the Elizabeth Gaskell train is being named just a matter of months before her house in Plymouth Grove, Manchester, is being reopened after its £1.8million renovation. People will now be able to take Elizabeth Gaskell’s train to visit Elizabeth Gaskell’s house.”