Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has announced a schedule of daily festive trips over the Christmas period.
Locomotive fans who missed out on tickets for GWSR’s Santa Experience trains will no doubt have been disappointed after they sold out in days – but there are now more opportunities to enjoy a steam-hauled journey through the Cotswolds between December 27 and January 3.
The GWSR has revealed it is running a daily service of two full round trips of the popular heritage line from Toddington Station.
The 28-mile journey runs to Cheltenham Racecourse, then back via Toddington to Broadway before returning to Toddington.
Tickets are now available online from the virtual booking office, while a limited number of tickets will also be available on the day of each journey from Toddington Station.
The locomotive chosen to haul these post-Christmas specials is the railway’s biggest and most powerful – the Southern Railway Merchant Navy class no. 35006 Peninsular & Oriental SN Co, more widely known as ‘P&O’.
It was one of 30 built in the 1940s to handle the heaviest expresses from London Waterloo to the South and South West, such as the Bournemouth Belle and Atlantic Coast Express.
The engine was bought from a South Wales scrap yard in the 1980s and, over the years that followed, was meticulously overhauled at Toddington, moving under its own power for the first time in over 50 years in 2015.
Chairman of GWSR Plc, Richard Johnson, said: “This is a great way to wrap up what has been a very difficult year for us and indeed for the heritage railway movement as a whole.
“With two lockdowns, we were unable to operate for six months including what should have been our busiest weeks.
“I am full of praise for all our volunteers for the work they have put in to ensure that we could resume services, which have proved to be extremely popular.
“To ensure the safety of our visitors and volunteers, the trains we are operating, including our wonderful ‘Santa Experience’ service, are carrying half their usual capacity.
“But the important thing is, we are operating and bringing a lot of joy to families over the Christmas period.”
Post-Christmas trains operate daily from December 27 until January 3.
With departures at 10am and 1.20pm each day, the round trip takes approximately two and a half hours with plenty of time at Cheltenham and Broadway to take pictures of the locomotive detaching from its train and re-attaching at the other end for the return journey.
For more information and to book your tickets, head to GWSR’s website.