All aboard! Christmas train sees 800 visitors at city park

The volunteers at the Eaton Park miniature railway all donning their most festive attire

The volunteers at the Eaton Park miniature railway all donning their most festive attire the the Christmassy journeys on the railway today. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

The crew manning a festive train in a city centre park have welcomed hundreds of people a day in their busiest festive period on record. 

The 62-year-old miniature railway lies at the heart of Eaton Park and has seen families turning up in their droves this year.

Busy train enthusiasts working to keep the Eaton miniature railway working

Busy train enthusiasts working to keep the Eaton miniature railway working - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

Queues this weekend were four times the length of the platform and Chris Eve, who is a volunteer on the railway, expects it to be like this for the duration of their festive rides. 

Due to Covid restrictions, the railway has not been able to operate their Santa specials.

However they wanted to make sure riders still got a magical experience and so built a festive tunnel for the train to chug through.

Chris said: “I have never seen it this busy in the winter. Usually we have about 400 people a day - it's been double that. The only reason I can think of is that the riders have seen the article in the Evening News and wanted to try it for themselves.” 

(L-R) Philip Moore, Keitao Ma and Chris Eve are running train rides

(L-R) Philip Moore, Keitao Ma and Chris Eve are running train rides around Eaton Park’s miniature railway this festive season - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

He added: “I think our figures on Sunday will be three times the average.” 

Chris has been passionate about trains for his whole life, so loves that he can volunteer on the miniature railway at the weekend. 

Most Read

He said: “It never gets boring, we all love it here, no one gets paid we are just all passionate volunteers. 

(Back-Front) James, Cody, Fern and Lexi Terrington excited to ride the miniature railway at Eaton Park

(Back-Front) James, Cody, Fern and Lexi Terrington excited to ride the miniature railway at Eaton Park - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

“I sit in an office all week so it’s fantastic to get out on a Sunday and make people smile.”  

Chris starts his Sunday morning at 7.30am where he cooks himself a full English breakfast to prepare him for a day of train driving.  

He arrives at the yard for 9am and its “all systems go” from then onwards. 

(L-R) Oscar Battle, Charlie Riches and Michael Riches are getting in the Christmas spirit on Eaton Park’s miniature railway

(L-R) Oscar Battle, Charlie Riches and Michael Riches are getting in the Christmas spirit on Eaton Park’s miniature railway - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

He said: “There has been a new phenomenon recently where we are seeing younger and younger volunteers join our team.  

“Anyone can volunteer with us and anyone can ride with us. 

“We now have a carriage that we can get wheelchairs and pushchairs inside it, which means we can offer our rides to a wider audience." 

Happy customers enjoying Eaton Park's miniature railway

Happy customers enjoying Eaton Park's miniature railway - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

The miniature railway will be open on Sundays from 11.30am - 3.30pm.  

There is a small charge of £1.50 per adult and £1 per child for a ride on their trains, and with multiple trains running at a time, why not join in the queue? 

What are some other festive modes of transport?  

A definite top pick for the list would be The Polar Express.  

The Polar Express is a musical movie whereby a magical train picks children up on Christmas Eve and they travel to the North Pole with a magical ticket in order to meet Santa.  

A film that’s all about believing in Santa Claus, and now, people of all ages can ride The Polar Express each Christmas on the Mid-Norfolk Railway, a show that’s full of singing, dancing and fun.  

Another vehicle that cannot be forgotten is of course the Coca Cola truck made famous by the original ‘Holidays are Coming’ advert.  

The annual festive tour of the truck has become a tradition.  

George Bailey's 1919 Dodge in the holiday classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ could also be a festive ride. 

And what could be more festive than a magical journey throughout Lapland on a dog sled? 

But of course, the most festive mode of transport has to be Santa's sleigh!