In a first for Swanage Railway, bookings have now opened for a ‘Steam and Lights’ festive train trip through the Purbeck countryside, which will replace the traditional ‘Santa Specials’ due to coronavirus restrictions.
In what promises to be a spectacular experience in the run up to Christmas, the steam locomotive and carriages will be covered with brightly coloured lights while the cosy steam-heated carriage interiors will be festively decorated.
Father Christmas won’t be hopping on board
The new service replaces the popular ‘Santa Specials’, which cannot operate because of the measures that need to be taken to counter the spread of COVID-19. This means that Father Christmas won’t be hopping on board the Steam and Lights train either.
The journey available on 10 selected dates between Saturday 5th and Wednesday 23rd December 2020, will start in Swanage. The return trip, departing at 5.15 pm and 7.15 pm will take about an hour, passing through stations and key points along the line, all specially lit up for the occasion.
“Colourful, evocative and dramatic”
Swanage Railway volunteer commercial director, Steve Williams said:
“This new ‘Steam and Lights’ train service in the run-up to Christmas is a festive first for the Swanage Railway and we are very excited because it will be very special and out of this world – colourful, evocative and dramatic. We are looking forward to it tremendously.
“The need to keep our passengers and staff safe against the threat of Covid-19 – by following social distancing and the wearing of face coverings – means that we cannot run our traditional, and very popular, Santa Special trains where Father Christmas gives presents to children on the train and has his photograph taken.
“With the help of an experienced and reputable company specialising in synchronised lighting and music, we have been working very hard to design a special festive train service that will make wonderful and magical memories for children and adults in the run-up to Christmas.”
“Festive music synchronised to the lighting displays”
Steve Williams added:
“On board the train, there will be festive music synchronised to the lighting displays passing the carriage windows as well as an informative on-train commentary.
“Before passengers board the Steam and Lights train at Swanage station, there will be a dramatic switch-on of the train lights at the platform.
“With allocated socially distanced seating, the Steam and Lights trains must be booked in advance and can only be joined at Swanage station where the brightly lit festive trains start and end their journeys.
Face coverings should be worn
Swanage Railway says that to comply with government health regulations, no bookings can be taken for groups comprising more than six people and face coverings should be worn on the platform at Swanage Station as well as on the ‘Steam and Lights’ train.
It is also warning that as the event includes some flashing lights it may be unsuitable for people suffering from epilepsy.
Last year Swanage Pier hosted a similar light show that attracted lots of visitors. The event was staged to music and despite bad weather on the first night was a spectacular sight as the coloured lights reflected on the sea.
Tickets for the ‘Steam and Lights’ train journey are available to buy from Wednesday 7th October 2020 from the Swanage Railway website