Second city Santa sensation!

VINTAGE Trains Limited’s first major exercise as a Train Operating Company – the debut of the steam-hauled ‘The Polar Express’ on the UK main line – appears to have been a stunning success in terms of the amounts of tickets sold.

As we reported in our last issue, the Tyseley-based operator is running the trips based on the Warner Brothers’ hit Christmas movie of the same name, from Birmingham Moor Street station to Tyseley and back.

Happy youngsters, many dressed in night clothes as per the Warner Brothers film, leave the 5pm ‘The Polar Express’ after it returned to Birmingham Moor Street behind GWR 4-6-0 No. 4965 Rood Ashton Hall at 6.30pm on Friday, November 30. Inset: One side of Rood Ashton Hall carried the nameplate Polar Star, recalling Star 4-6-0 No. 4005, which emerged from Swindon Works in February 1907 and was withdrawn in 1934. ROBIN JONES

As in the film, families with young children dressed in nightclothes gather in a reception room at Moor Street, where the story of The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is unfolded through video, before the train conductor appears and invites them aboard, leading them to the platform.

On board, dancing chefs and waiters arrive serving cookies and hot chocolate, and show pages from the illustrated book of the film for the whole carriage to follow.

Headed by GWR 4-6-0 No. 4965 Rood Ashton Hall, carrying a facsimile GWR nameplate Polar Star on one side, the train is top and tailed and the outward journey is diesel-hauled. At the North Pole, aka Tyseley, a series of illuminated backdrops represents the factories where Santa’s elves make the toys.

Read more in Issue 249 of HR – on sale now!

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