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The Orient Express arrives at Bassenthwaite Station - but whodunit?

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

There's been a surprise for visitors in the Lake District this month - a 1920s steam train has appeared on the old railway tracks at Bassethwaite Station, near Keswick. It's no ordinary train. It's a full-scale replica of a world-famous locomotive used in the recent Hollywood adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. The French SNCF Class 241 was bought by Diana and Simon Parums who hope to turn some of the carriages into a café along with the former station building.

(Credit: ITV Border)

Speaking to ITV Border, Diana said the idea to buy the train arose by chance: "Simon and I had been down to a specialist haulage yard in Stoke and they had a carriage that we were interested in. When this was sitting next to it, it just seemed an opportunity not to be missed, it came available and here we are!"

It took nearly six months for Simon and Diana Parums to dig out the old tracks of the station, which was closed during the Beeching

The couple who began renovating the former Bassenthwaite station, as well as transforming a Hollywood train into a cafe, say the pandemic hasn't stopped their grand masterplan. It has slowed the development but they're still hoping to open by the Summer. Diana Parums, the owner of the train and station, said: "The build this year has been substantially affected. Sadly, people have become ill or having to self-isolate so aren't available like they were, so everything is taking twice as long. Early in the year (2020) particularly getting materials was a real struggle even the basic stuff like cement and deliveries - booking in deliveries - took far, far longer and that has delayed it so instead of opening in Easter we're now looking at May, June, maybe even July, depending on when it's safe and complete."

(Credit: ITV Border)

The 'steam train' starred in the multi-million dollar adaptation of 'Murder on the Orient Express', starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Dame Judy Dench.

The steam train is full of the props from the movie, and the carriages are larger than normal to fit lighting and cameras inside. It's something that its owners say will help with social distancing measures once the attraction opens.

The old station platform is to be a garden, with around 2,000 trees and shrubs planted. As well as this there will be a bird hide and a woodland walk through a nature reserve.

Diana said: "Although it will be quite a large expenditure for us, it's our life's work, it's our life's savings that are going into it and I think worth it in the end because it's a really special thing that we're doing."

(Credit: ITV Border)

This is a couple putting their all into hospitality, which is currently closed. They, like many in Cumbria, have faith it will return. It's a journey of a lifetime, with more plot twists than could perhaps have been imagined.

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