Santa's back on track after lockdown at Northampton heritage railway
Popular attraction gets signal to restart Christmas countdown
Rail enthusiasts are back in business this weekend after their hugely popular Santa Specials were given the green light.
Tickets for Northampton & Lamport Railway's heritage service are on sale for the next three weekends in the run-up to Christmas at the end of a year which almost saw the volunteer-run attraction hit the buffers.
The four-week national lockdown caused cancellation of the first weekend's fun but all those who missed out have been transferred to available dates in December.
General Manager Adam Giles said: "Just like Santa, Christmas is our busiest time of the year and it will obviously it was disappointing for everyone that the first of our 'specials' had to be cancelled.
"Everybody who had booked for trains in November has either been transferred on to other dates or been given a refund — but there are still some tables available.
“Although things will have to be a little different this year, we still aim to give everyone as good a pre-Christmas experience as possible.
"This year has been very hard on the Railway and we greatly appreciate people’s continued support. We are run purely by volunteers and every ticket bought goes towards helping us ride out this crisis and come back stronger when things get back to normal.”
Santa's regular grotto at the station has had to stay shut this year, so the big fella will be riding on the trains greeting and chatting to passengers — from a safe distance — as the travel along the 1½ miles of restored track through the Northamptonshire countryside between Lamport and Brampton Halt.
Tickets are sold per table of four with sherry and mince pies thrown in for adults — soft drinks and biscuits for children — and presents waiting on the platform for youngsters up to 16 years.
Volunteers at the Railway launched an appeal after being forced to shut for four months during the first Covid-19 lockdown. But trains started running again in August and a £46,000 Government grant helped keep the wheels turning.