VOLUNTEERS and staff at the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway are celebrating after last year's Santa season turned out to be a record-breaker - making more than £470,000.

The railway's special Santa trains ran for 15 days, including the last eight before Christmas Eve, attracting more passengers and generating more revenue than ever before, says the charitable trust that runs the visitor attraction.

Rob Shaw, trust chairman, said: “We are absolutely delighted, but none of this success could have been achieved without the phenomenal contribution made by our fantastic team of volunteers and staff.

"They have worked tirelessly, even on occasions when the weather did its very best to conspire against us, and have really done us and themselves proud.”

The Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway has, for some years now, offered a range of options to prospective Santa customers to suit a wide range of tastes and budgets, including ‘the Classic’, First Class and various dining options too, a formula which has proved extremely successful.

On the majority of Santa operating days, two separate trains were run – both formed of six coaches – one of which was the beautifully restored and turned out Dales Dining set.

Four locomotives were in action over the festive period – the popular 16-inch Hunslet 0-6-0ST Beatrice, ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria, the visiting Bagnall 0-6-0ST No 401 (Vulcan), supported by Class 37 diesel No 37294, following completion of repairs.

The Christmas Day dining train, which offered a lavish five-course festive meal with all the trimmings, was another resounding success, selling out weeks in advance, says the trust.

Train services on the line have now temporarily stopped for a few weeks to allow for a period of essential maintenance, including the total renewal of a quarter of a mile of track between Embsay and Holywell Halt, work on which is already ahead of schedule. Train services are set to resume in early March.

Richard Jones, the trust's newly- appointed press officer, said last year had proved to be very successful, but the coming year would be challenging.

He said: “2023 will no doubt be another challenging year for the Railway. But after a highly successful 2022 we are looking forward to the coming year with optimism and continue to build on the excellent progress we have made over recent years.”

Coming up later this year are special events including fish and chip and curry specials, and 14 murder mysteries.

Find out more at: https://www.embsayboltonabbeyrailway.org.uk/events