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This line opened in 1861 to take coke from Durham to the ironworks of Cumberland. It ran from Spring Garden Junction to Tebay. It linked the Stockton and Darlington Railway near Bishop Auckland with the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway at Tebay, via Barnard Castle, Stainmore Summit and Kirkby Stephen. The final section was opened two years later.
At Stainmore Summit it reached 1,370ft and trains were often held for bad weather.