Father Christmas returns to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway

  • First full ‘Santa Express’ from Cheltenham Racecourse since 2019

  • Tickets now on sale

  • Service organised and run by volunteers

 

08 September 2022: The UK has gone through some of the hottest days on record but the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) is already making tracks through the snow with its popular steam-hauled ‘Santa Express’ tickets now on sale.

 

Tickets became available at the beginning of September and are already selling fast, according to the GWSR’s marketing manager, Catherine Johnson.

 

“For the first time since 2019, the full steam Santa Express train service will operate from Cheltenham Racecourse, running through the glorious Cotswold winter scenery and through dark Greet Tunnel to the North Pole at Winchcombe,” she explains.  “The last couple of years have seen our Christmas trains restricted with reduced capacity because of Covid social distancing rules, while trains were run from Toddington over just three miles – it’s really exciting that we’re are back to full operation!” 

 

Every family will enjoy a personal audience with Father Christmas while all youngsters receive an exciting gift.   These special family encounters take place in Santa’s grotto within a specially-converted railway carriage at North Pole station.  “This will make it a really magical occasion for all the family,” Catherine Johnson says.

 

In addition, a range of entertainment is being laid on as well as refreshments – including the railway’s famous mince pies, at North Pole station.  The event is entirely organised by an enthusiastic team of GWSR volunteers who are dedicated to making sure that everyone has a memorable day on the railway. 

 

Tickets can be booked online at www.gwsr.com where there is also full information.  To be sure of securing seats on the Santa Express, Catherine Johnson advises booking early especially as the days immediately before Christmas are the most popular.

 

Santa Express services operate every weekend from 26th November to 18th December plus 21st to 23rd December.

 

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PHOTOGRAPHS can be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/t/20PjK1KQ37z0oSt9

 

 

Media contact:

Ian Crowder, press office, 07775 566 555 or press.officer@gwsr.com

 

About the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway

The GWSR is a volunteer-run heritage railway operating steam and diesel train services over 14 miles of Cotswold countryside between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.  The Santa Express service operates from Cheltenham Racecourse station, the railway’s southern terminus and where there is plenty of free car parking; to Winchcombe station, renamed North Pole for the occasion. 

 

The railway was once part of the Great Western Railway main line that linked the West Midlands with South Wales and the West Country between Stratford-upon-Avon and Cheltenham Spa.  The intermediate stations on the line closed in 1960 and the entire line was closed in 1976.  A group that put pressure on British Rail to retain the line became a preservation movement with the formation of GWSR Plc in 1980, after the track had been lifted and most of the infrastructure demolished.  The volunteers set about reinstating the line, running its first train over a few hundred yards of track at Toddington, Gloucestershire, in 1984.  New track reached Cheltenham Racecourse in 2003 and Broadway in 2018.  The railway has won numerous awards for the excellence of its effort to reinstate this much-loved line.  Today it remains almost entirely run by over 800 volunteers and just a dozen administration, operational and safety staff.  It carries over 100,000 passengers per year and, despite successive lockdowns, passenger numbers have now recovered to near to pre-Covid levels.

 

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