Metro Mayor Dan Norris helped Bitton-based Avon Valley Railway launch its upcoming season of ‘Santa Special’ train rides.
Volunteers and Trustees at the charity talked with Mr Norris about how they’re getting back on track after the pandemic’s impact, with the Mayor helping promote the festive family steam train rides. They kick off next month and run all the way through to Christmas Eve.
During his visit Mr Norris had a hands-on tour of the locomotives, carriages, rolling stock, workshops and the restored Victorian railway station building.
Mr Norris said: “Avon Valley Railways is a Bitton gem, a popular family day out that’s loved by people of all ages who come from across the West of England for the thrill of a weekend steam train ride.
“I was chuffed to be able to help launch this year’s ‘Santa Specials’. What better way to prepare for Christmas than to book ahead for a festive treat.
“Closure of the passenger service, followed by reduced capacity when it re-opened, meant a loss of income in common with so many West of England organisations.
“Enthusiastic volunteers have given Avon Valley Railway a platform for recovery.”
It seemed to be the end of the line for the railway when it closed in the 1960s. A decade or so later, volunteers began restoration work. There are now three miles of re-laid track, and locomotives and carriages have been returned to their former glory – as has the original Victorian railway station building.
Train rides are available to members of the public at weekends, with mince-pie fuelled ‘Santa Specials’ due to depart from late November onwards.