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Christmas miracle could be on track at heritage railway after disappointment

PUBLISHED: 20:19 11 September 2020 | UPDATED: 20:19 11 September 2020

The Mid Norfolk Railway Polar Express, which has been cancelled for this year. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Mid Norfolk Railway Polar Express, which has been cancelled for this year. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Passengers hoping to take a ride on The Polar Express this year were left disappointed following the news it had been cancelled - but now there could be a Christmas miracle just around the corner.

The Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust (MNRPT) confirmed this week that the popular festive event would not being going ahead due to coronavirus restrictions potentially making the ride “disappointing” and not able to live up to expectations.

But George Saville, the railway’s general manager, said they were looking at alternative arrangements instead.

The railway is currently investigating an alternative steam-hauled Christmas train service which will comply fully with all social distancing regulations but allow families to enjoy a festive train ride this Christmas.”

The Trust, which oversees the running of the railway, was forced to cancel The Polar Express this week.

A statement from the Trust said: “It would be impossible to put on the full show that makes the Polar Express such a unique experience and maintain the social distancing that is still likely to be required.

“As such the railway does not, therefore, want to put on a version of the show that would likely be a disappointment for our passengers when compared to previous editions. The very nature of the show requires the cast to interact with the audience who are, of course, the passengers.”

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The experience, based on the hit 2004 animated film, sees passengers travel from Dereham to the ‘North Pole’, with a cast of live actors on board, and once guests arrive they are greeted by Father Christmas.

The MNRPT said it was committed to delivering the best possible experience, which sees thousands of people each year.

Chairman Charlie Robinson added: “We have come to this difficult decision because we have to take a long-term view that safeguards both the railway’s reputation and that of the Polar Express train ride.

“We appreciate that this will be a major disappointment to our passengers, but we hope that there is understanding as to why this decision has been made.”

Despite this year’s set back, the heritage railway has signed a contract with Rail Events, the Rights Holder on behalf of Warner Brothers, which will see The Polar Express return to the Mid Norfolk Railway each year till 2024.

Mr Robinson added: “The Trust is, therefore, delighted to say the show will be back on the road, or in our case rails, for 2021.”

The Polar Express ticket holders have received an email from the railway to offer a refund of the ticket price, as previously promised when they booked, or to transfer their ticket to The Polar Express 2021.

- Updates will soon be available on the website at www.mnr.org.uk.


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