Railway 200

Railway 200

What is Railway 200? 

Railway 200 is the nationwide celebration marking 200 years since the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. It is spearheaded by Network Rail but supported across the whole of the rail industry – including heritage rail. 


Why are we celebrating Railway 200? 

The opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway was a pivotal moment in embedding the concept of rail travel in the public mind. It created a groundswell of opinion and understanding of the advantages of rail travel. It generated the excitement required to turn a slowly evolving concept into a worldwide phenomenon that united nations, transformed economies and quite literally changed time.  

You might argue that the Stockton and Darlington wasn’t really the first. But the events of September 1825 are still strong in the public imagination today thanks in no small part to celebrations marking the anniversary stretching all the way back to the North Eastern Railway in 1875. The 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway therefore provides a once in a generation opportunity to harness that imagination for the benefit of all parts of the rail industry.  

This landmark is as important as a Jubilee or Olympic Games; but it touches upon a far wider spectrum, embracing everything from engineering to social history and economics.     


How is heritage rail involved? 

The heritage rail sector have been involved from the outset. The Heritage Railway Association has been working hard to ensure that heritage rail is at the forefront of any opportunities created by Railway 200. We’ve also been involved in things like developing the Railway 200 branding. 

Work first started before the Covid pandemic and was delayed as a result. But the heritage rail sector has not missed out on any opportunities yet. Indeed, we’re slightly ahead of the curve in launching our drive to get heritage rail organisations involved before the ‘modern’ railway industry. 

You’ll see lots of Railway 200 content from organisations like Network Rail in due course, but that is designed to compliment what the heritage rail sector can contribute – not compete with it. 



What do we hope Railway 200 will achieve?  

We have some simple, but important, outcomes for the sector in mind that we hope Railway 200 can achieve. They are:  


How is going to work? 

Railway 200 can only reach the whole country if a range of organisations and groups are empowered to take the concept and make it work in their area. The Heritage Railway Association does not have the resources to directly run events in every part of the UK, and neither do any of the other organisations involved. But we can help to make it possible by: 


When is Railway 200? 

The 200th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway is in September 2025. However, we hope that the events can stretch across the whole year and make Railway 200 a 12-month long celebration of everything that’s great about rail. 

Although the September celebrations are likely to centre around North East England, that doesn’t mean that Railway 200 is only about the North East. The various events are intended to complement each other and not to compete. 

What might a Railway 200 event look like? 

You may only be able to hold one ‘Railway 200’ event or you may be planning a whole series – either way you can take part. 

Our top tips when thinking about a Railway 200 event:  

Your Railway 200 event could be a book festival or a series of talks, a steam gala or a model railway exhibition, a film show or even a drama. The only limitation is your creativeness!  


Key points to think about 

1. Railway 200 is about commemorating all the milestones in railway history that created the modern world that we live in. 

2. From package holidays to commuting and even standardised time, the railways gave birth to them all – this is the year to celebrate all the achievements of the railways. 

3. This a once in a generation opportunity to enthuse people about railways; their history, their future and to celebrate the people who’ve made it all happen over the last two centuries. 

4. Railway 200 is designed to give opportunities for every business, organisation, town, village and even church hall with a connection to railway history to come together and make sure that Railway 200 is an event worthy of such a momentous point in world history. 


How can your organisation take part? 

We believe that every organisation in heritage rail will be able to take part in Railway 200 in some shape or form.  

There are only a few simple rules to follow when considering a Railway 200 event for your organisation. The event must be: 

Telling people about your Railway 200 event 

Once you’ve decided what the event will be, you’ll want to market it as a ‘Railway 200 event’. You can already download the Railway 200 branding to use on your own materials and resources. But we’ll also be creating a specific Railway 200 section of our website where we’ll be able to list all of the events. We’ll be able to provide more information on that soon. 

We’ve also prepared a template press release that you can download and adapt to make it suit your event. You may also want to use the event to try and engage more with important people in your area such as your MP, councillors or even local businesses. 

Download branding

Download template release


What happens next? 

We’ll keep you updated about the wider rail industry plans for Railway 200 here, and in our communications direct to HRA members. 

We’re hoping to be able to share a more detailed timetable soon, and we’ll be launching a dedicated Railway 200 events listing section of our website in due course. 

If you’ve got any questions about Railway 200 in the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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