GWSR's Santa and steam more popular than ever!
Extra special train ran on 26 November for Winston's Wish, Riding for the Disabled and Acorns Children's Hospice
75 specials running through December
Two-thirds of trains sold out – others with few tickets remaining
15,000 mince pies ordered
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway’s Santa Specials are set to break records again as the last seats are snapped up.
The season gets under way from the weekend of 2nd December with 75 trains scheduled to take excited youngsters and their families to meet Father Christmas. Three-quarters of seats are already taken while over 45 trains are fully booked.
But the special steam trains from Cheltenham Racecourse to the North Pole (at Winchcombe) began on Sunday 26th November with a very special service for 65 children supported by charities Winston's Wish, Acorns Children's Hospice Trust and Riding for the Disabled.
This is an initiative of the railway's steam locomotive department and enthusiastically supported by the Santa Special team of volunteers.
Steam locomotive department volunteer Chris Blake who spearheaded the special train says: “We bring such a lot of delight for children throughout December but many miss out from the opportunity to enjoy something like this because of severe illness, disability or a family bereavement.
“This is the fourth year we have done this and it brings such a huge amount of pleasure to these special youngsters. It makes a real difference not just to their lives but ours too.”
Last tickets being snapped up fast!
Chief Elf Colin Fewell (the railway’s volunteer commercial director), says: “We expect to carry over 10,000 people on our trains this December.
“Most are already sold but there are still some seats available but this really is a case of ‘book now while tickets last’! Tickets seem to be selling earlier than ever and even by the beginning of November our sales were up 60% compared with last year.
“I’m overwhelmed by how popular our Santa Specials are. There are only so many trains we can run each day but if we could run more, I’m sure we would fill them too!”
Over 45 steam trains will run right up to Christmas Eve. They start from Cheltenham Racecourse every weekend up to Christmas as well as daily from Wednesday 20th December, to the North Pole where everyone gets an opportunity to meet Santa in his specially converted railway carriage while youngsters each receive a quality gift.
In addition, Santa will be travelling on a diesel railcar service from Toddington station along the line towards Broadway as far as Laverton. These trains run on December 9th, 10th, 16th, 17h,,19th and 20th with 30 trains running altogether. Some of these are now sold out too.
Colin Fewell points out that these special trains are all run by volunteers and the thinks that's what makes the trip such a wonderful experience for families.
“Many families come year after year to enjoy the steam train journey from Cheltenham Racecourse station to the railway's Christmas wonderland at the North Pole with a chance for a chat with Santa Claus himself.
“This is a volunteer-run railway and I believe it's because of that families feel so welcome when they visit us.
“Our staff give up their time because they want to. We all enjoy the delight and wonder on youngsters' (and grown-ups) faces – not only when they see the steam engine pulling their train but also visiting Santa in his specially converted railway coach at Winchcombe!”
Free refreshments are offered to travellers at Winchcombe including hot mince pies which are made locally to a special recipe for the railway.
“We expect to get through around 15,000 hot mince pies,” Colin Fewell adds. “To say nothing of gallons of tea and coffee – and sackfuls of carrots for Santa's reindeer.”
Full details of the services, ticket availability and how to book are on the railway's website at www.gwsr.com. This year, the railway’s new visitor centre at Winchcombe station will be being used for the first time as a reception to give families the warmest of welcomes before they are escorted to meet Father Christmas.
NOTE FOR EDITORS
Please contact the below if you wish to travel on one of the trains during December. Media visiting will even get to try one of our moorish mince pies.
Photographs taken on previous Christmas Specials on application or visit this Dropbox file. Credit GWSR if reproducing one. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/a5xf9o8taqrjfhy/AAB_uJ0zMa3Yl5AInkr3r_rYa?dl=0
Media Contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or email@example.com