As the UK’s second lockdown begins, the Churnet Valley Railway would like to take a moment to reflect on what has been the most challenging season on record.
At the start of 2020 no-one could have predicted what was to come, so much so we had planned one of our most adventurous operating calendars to date with more public running, a revamped dining service and some new bigger and better events for all to enjoy. All these plans though were placed on hold, and we were forced to close to the public for nearly 5 months losing out on the Easter and Spring holidays plus all the early summer running.
Fortunately, restrictions were eased and on 1st August we were able to resume public services, though with an altered timetable and method of operation in order to comply with all of the latest government restrictions; that have been ever-changing. Since that first train departed we have operated for 38 days, providing 76 journeys that means we have transported passengers 1,520 miles along our 10 miles of railway line. Many of our trains have been full despite the restrictions placed upon travelling, and our dining service has proved so popular that we were even able to introduce a new breakfast service that will return for the 2021 season. Quite simply, we could not have done this without all our supporters – our dedicated team of volunteers who have helped behind the scenes and on the day, and our loyal visitors who have all come down to try and enjoy a trip out as best they could.
It hasn’t gone smoothly, but from all the reviews on various social media platforms we are delighted to see much positive feedback thanking us for our efforts. And so in turn it is our time to say Thank You, for visiting us despite our inability to operate at full capacity and helping to ensure rail preservation continues in North Staffordshire.
Our final train of the main season has now dropped its fire, and we enter into another lockdown period with the rest of the country. However we will be back with our ever popular Santa & Steam specials in December, with our Santa Express departing a little later than first envisaged due to the restrictions placed on hospitality. 2020 sees a revamped format for this ever-popular seasonal steam train, as Father Christmas’ elves join us in the Churnet Valley for a fun filled ride to the North Pole and back. For those that had booked in November you should have received an e-mail offering alternative date, whilst additional capacity has been added elsewhere for those still looking to buy tickets. Rest assured we are going to do all we can to ensure these services run, and make sure we bring some Christmas Cheer once more to all who visit. Thanks again for the support, and look forward to welcoming you all back in the not so distant future.