'A success story for Dereham' - Polar Express set for another bumper season

The Polar Express Train Ride is returning to the Mid-Norfolk Railway in Dereham for 2020 Pictures: B

The Polar Express train ride is returning to the Mid Norfolk Railway - Credit: Archant

The Mid Norfolk Railway (MNR) is preparing for another bumper festive season ahead of the first Polar Express ride for almost two years. 

Thousands of people from across the UK are set to flock to Dereham for what is the railway's marquee event. 

The Mid Norfolk Railway Polar Express.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Visitors about to board the Polar Express in Dereham - Credit: Archant

The town's station will begin welcoming excited families from Saturday, November 13, all in search of the ultimate Christmas experience. 

Between now and December 23, the MNR expects host around 30,000 people as it puts on a bigger show than ever before. 

Peter Singlehurst, press officer at the railway, said: "Every year we try and expand what we have to offer. 

"We have set out to increase capacity every year, and this year will be the first where we are using ex-Greater Anglia coaches - which is why they are a bit longer.

Steph Garthwaite, deputy general manager, George Saville, general manager,from Mid Norfolk Railway S

Peter Singlehurst (right), press officer at the Mid Norfolk Railway Station, with deputy general manager Steph Garthwaite and general manager George Saville - Credit: Danielle Booden

"The show will be more or less the same, but the comfort has improved. We get lots of repeat customers, so they will really notice a difference."

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Hot on the heels of Flying Scotsman's historic stint in Norfolk, the Mid Norfolk Railway's manic year is about to get even busier. 

But given the disappointment of 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, MNR bosses are simply grateful to be back.

"This is our key event," added Mr Singlehurst. "It means this is how we generate a big chunk of our annual income to invest in the railway.

The Polar Express Train Ride 2019 Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

The Polar Express attracts thousands of people to Dereham every year - Credit: Archant

"It is the only event in our calendar that we don't really need to promote. We get a lot of hassle about tickets quite early in the year. 

"This year we did not even have a hard launch and, just by word of mouth, things took off. 

"Certainly, the most expensive ones all sold the quickest."

Tickets for the Polar Express this year are almost completely sold out. 

The Mid Norfolk Railway Polar Express. Left, Kiya Fyles with Delilah and Imogen Love with Bowie, get

Visitors about to board the Polar Express - Credit: Archant

For Dereham, that means thousands of visitors descending on the mid Norfolk town and making the most of its pubs, shops and hotels. 

"The Polar Express is a real success story for Dereham and local economy," said Mr Singlehurst.

"Last year there were people travelling from Belfast, Penzance and Inverness specifically to go on the Polar Express.

"If you are buying four tickets, travelling all that way and staying overnight, you are talking about a fair chunk of change."

The Mid Norfolk Railway Polar Express.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Polar Express train ride is returning to the Mid Norfolk Railway - Credit: Archant

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