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Beattock Summit

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Beattock Summit
Sign marking the summit, as seen from the West Coast Main Line
LocationSouth Lanarkshire
Coordinates55°25′18″N 3°35′27″W / 55.4217°N 3.5907°W / 55.4217; -3.5907Coordinates: 55°25′18″N 3°35′27″W / 55.4217°N 3.5907°W / 55.4217; -3.5907
Grid referenceNS994152
Other information
Original companyCaledonian Railway
Pre-groupingCaledonian Railway
Post-groupingLondon Midland and Scottish Railway
Key dates
3 January 1900Station opened[1]
After 1926Station closed[1]
Nearing Beattock Summit from the north in 1957
Nearing Beattock Summit from the north in 1957
The Royal Scot approaches Beattock Summit in 1957
The Royal Scot approaches Beattock Summit in 1957

Beattock Summit is a high point of the West Coast Main Line (WCML) railway and of the A74(M) motorway as they cross between Dumfries and Galloway and South Lanarkshire in south west Scotland.

Railway history

The highest point on the Caledonian Railway Main Line north of the border (built by the Caledonian Railway and opened on 15 February 1848), it is located 52 miles (83 km) south of Glasgow Central and 349 miles (558 km) north of London Euston stations. The height of the summit is 1,033 feet (315 m) above sea level. The signboard by the rail track records the elevation as 1,016 feet (310 m). The summit is the watershed between the River Clyde to the north and Evan Water, a tributary of the River Annan to the south.

The summit was the location of a private halt from 1900 to around 1926.[1]

Steam locomotives frequently required banking assistance in getting their heavy trains up the incline, particularly in the northbound direction, which had steeper gradients. There was an engine shed at Beattock which had banking locomotives on standby twenty-four hours per day to minimise train delays.

The severity of the climb to the summit is referenced in W. H. Auden's poem Night Mail, written in 1936 for the G.P.O. Film Unit's celebrated production of the same name.

Electric locomotives, as far back as the Class 86, as well as today's Avanti West Coast services, climb the gradient without assistance.

Preceding station Historical railways Following station
Line open; Station closed
  Caledonian Railway
Main Line
Line open; Station closed



  1. ^ a b c Butt (1995), page 30


  • Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199.
  • Jowett, Alan (March 1989). Jowett's Railway Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland: From Pre-Grouping to the Present Day (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-086-0. OCLC 22311137.
  • Jowett, Alan (2000). Jowett's Nationalised Railway Atlas (1st ed.). Penryn, Cornwall: Atlantic Transport Publishers. ISBN 978-0-906899-99-1. OCLC 228266687.
  • Nock, O.S. (1974). Electric Euston to Glasgow (1st ed.). London: Ian Allan Limited. ISBN 0-7110-0530-3. OCLC 2283378.
  • RAILSCOT on Caledonian Railway
  • Beattock Summit on navigable OS map
  • British Transport Films, (1974). "Wires over the Border". Disc One, Track 5, In: British Transport Films Collection. Volume 3: Running a Railway. (DVD Format), BFIVD720.
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Beattock Summit
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