Britain's poshest train arrives in Norwich for Christmas trip

Train manager Paul Heathcote onboard the festive Northern Belle train, which departed from Norwich Station on Wednesday morning. Picture: Ella Wilkinson 

Train manager Paul Heathcote onboard the festive Northern Belle train, which departed from Norwich Station on Wednesday morning. Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

Passengers stepped into Christmas onboard Britain's poshest train as it arrived at Norwich Station on Wednesday morning, before embarking on a festive journey across the countryside. 

The Northern Belle, hauled by a historic steam or diesel locomotive on each trip, nods to 1930s rail travel and was once part of the iconic Orient Express group, with Pullman carriages named after castles and stately homes.

The Northern Belle arrives at Norwich Station Picture: Ella Wilkinson 

The Northern Belle arrives at Norwich Station Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

It picked up 178 passengers at Norwich Station and then set out on a five-hour round trip, collecting an extra 49 passengers at Ipswich Station. 

Passenger Barbara Fielden, 86, from Norwich, who came with her niece, said: "We've been on the Northern Belle before on some of its other day trips as well as longer distance and we went up to Scotland.

Barbara (left) and Alison Fielden (right) ahead of their trip on the poshest Christmas train in Britain Picture: Ella Wilkinson 

Barbara (left) and Alison Fielden (right) ahead of their trip on the poshest Christmas train in Britain Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

"It is a beautiful train and with the situation how it is at the moment, anything will cheer us up and it seemed like a lovely idea as we know it is a lovely train and the food is always excellent." 

Gerry Cockburn and Linda Hacon ready to board The Northern Belle Picture: Ella Wilkinson 

Gerry Cockburn and Linda Hacon ready to board The Northern Belle Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

The luxury train features plush seating and dining tables and groups were treated to a champagne reception and a seven-course festive lunch, including a cheeseboard with biscuits and chutneys and a bottle of wine.

A conjuror and musicians added a touch of Christmas magic and tickets cost £289pp, so expectations were high.

 Derek and Sandra Wortley ready to take a trip on the Northern Belle Picture: Ella Wilkinson 

Derek and Sandra Wortley ready to take a trip on the Northern Belle Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

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Derek Wortley, 70, from Norwich, who came with wife Sandra, said: "We went on it a few years ago from Nottingham to Bath and we have been in lockdown all this time and have saved a couple of quid so thought we'd come."

Team members Chloe Pounder and Chris Nuttall welcome passengers onboard the Northern Belle at Norwich Station. Picture: Ella Wilkinson 

Team members Chloe Pounder and Chris Nuttall welcome passengers onboard the Northern Belle at Norwich Station. Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

Due to coronavirus, guests needed to wear masks at the station and when moving around the train.

Paul Heathcote, train manager, said: "It is a vintage train and is absolutely amazing with first class service.

Train manager Paul Heathcote and team member Graham Smith on board the festive Northern Belle Picture: Ella Wilkinson 

Team member Graham Smith and train manager Paul Heathcote (L-R) on board the festive Northern Belle Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

"It has had an amazing response from the customers I've spoken to so far on the trips we've been on and people are glad to be out and sitting in a restaurant.

Guests are treated to a seven-course lunch on the Northern Belle Picture: Ella Wilkinson 

Guests are treated to a seven-course lunch on the Northern Belle Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

"We have housekeepers on board who are constantly cleaning surfaces, the tables are separated into bays and there is sanitiser throughout."



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