|Original gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Preserved gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Bowes Railway, built by George Stephenson in 1826, is the world's only preserved operational standard gauge cable railway system. It was built to transport coal from Durham pits to boats on the River Tyne. Only part of the system now remains.
A partnership of businessmen, including John Bowes, called the Grand Allies opened a colliery at Springwell. A new railway was needed to transport the coal to the River Tyne. The plan was to combine steam power with gravity on the inclines. The railway was designed by George Stephenson. Of a similar design was Stephenson's earlier work on the Hetton Colliery Railway which was completed in 1822.
The first part of the railway to be built was a 1-mile section between Black Fell and Springwell. This section was opened in 1826 and comprised two inclined planes: one steep incline up from Black Fell to Blackham's Hill, and one down from Blackham's Hill and Springwell. At Blackham's Hill, the summit of both inclines, was the "hauler house", housing stationary engines to wind the ropes on both inclines. The railway was completed in 1855.
 Preserved railway
 Locomotives and brake vans
- Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST W.S.T. built in 1954. In use on the railways brake van rides. Boiler ticket expires in 2012. Formerly used at Long Meg Mine. Currently on loan to NRM Shildon.
- Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST No 22. In use on the railways brake van rides, boiler ticket expires in 2012.
- Planet 0-4-0 No 101. Used sometimes on shunting duties and freight trains but not as often as the Hunslet due to its small size.
- Hunslet Engine Company 0-4-0 No 6263. Used regularly on freight trains and shunting, the most powerful shunter on the line.
- Andrew Barclay 0-6-0 No 613. In use but only on special events due to its size.
- Hunslet 0-6-0 No 503. On display in the wagon shop.
Underground electric locomotives
- English Electric 4W No 456. On static display.
Underground diesel locomotives
- Hunslet 0-4-0 No 514. Awaiting a cosmetic restoration.
- Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 No 286 "Victoria". On static display.
- Lambton Hetton & Joicey Collieries Brake van No 1. In use as a passenger vehicle on the trains.
- L.M.S. No 1, built for use in Derby. In use as a passenger vehicle on the trains.
- L.M.S. No 3 Brake van. In use as a passenger vehicle on the passenger trains.
The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
 Site Facilities
The site currently has offices canteen and class room facilities. It also has joinery, engineering and fabrication workshops with recently refurbished and working machinery, a blacksmith's shop and two additional working forges. The site has a fully functional station platform and level crossing across the adjacent main road.
In 2008 the railway suffered two significant blows to its preserved status. In a suspected arson attack, several wagons were destroyed by fire. In July 2008, in a raid suspected to be connected with the rise in the value of scrap metal, one of the stationary engines was cut up and the copper wire and iron housing removed, with the damage caused rendering it beyond repair. It was one of only two scheduled ancient monuments of its type in the country, and the thieves condemned as having no respect for destroying historical artefacts.