AD Press trip: The Santa Train Ride run by The Steam Dreams Rail Co is currently the only one of its kind which operates from London. Although the company itself specialises in nostalgic day trips and holidays travelling on steam trains across the UK and Europe – including the famous Flying Scotsman!
Our Christmas train ride was led by a vintage steam engine called The Mayflower; which was built in 1948 by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow and used regularly until 1967.
We opted for the second ride of the day on this press trip, allowing us plenty of time to reach there in time. Walking into Victoria Station, there was a buzz as children dressed in festive clothes could be seen weaving their way around the holiday crowds to the Santa Express platform.
We missed seeing The Mayflower approach the station, but could see big and little kids excited at seeing the engine puffing smoke – with the driver and stoker accommodating photos in the engine. If you are keen to grab photos inside the engine itself, do see if there is a possibility as you are boarding, as it a popular photo spot on your return!
Excitedly we boarded coach G and into First Class. All the modern style coaches in standard and First were festively decorated with ribbons, lights and baubles, with carols playing as we searched for our table of four.
Now, this is where there was an issue occurred which only affected us and three other families. A last minute change of carriage for coach G, meant that our ticket numbers no longer matched with our allocated seats: the First Class carriage we were booked in no longer had space for the standing passengers needing their booked four tables of four. However, this looked very much a one off issue and the staff dealt with it swiftly and admirably.
After a brief wait, the elves had cast their magic on a ‘backstage’ carriage to the rear; decorating seats and windows, ensuring tables were laden with the same activity packs, festive kids snack boxes as the other carriages had. Yes, the seats were different, but did any of the kids notice? No, not at all. Instead they were enraptured with Mrs Claus singing Christmas carols, followed by Santa and his elves stopping by for chats and handing out wrapped up wooden toy presents.
Discreet apologies and assurances were later made by staff on board who made every effort to smooth any disappointment for families not in their expected seats, whilst younger kids were busy playing with their toys or activity sheet.
Although the journey was a little under two hours, it zoomed by so quickly, we barely looked outside. I did notice us waiting in a couple of sidings at times, so it didn’t feel like we travelled far. Although I did catch Battersea Station and another train looking at us enviously as we tucked into our mince pies.
If you are local to London, then this festive trip could be just the thing to kick off the Christmas merriment!
- Dates for 2023:
- Ticket Prices: TBC
- Location: Victoria Station, Victoria St, London SW1E 5ND
- Additional Onsite Activities? No
- Kids packs contained: The paper festive bags contained a juice drink, raisins, a chocolate reindeer and a gingerbread man and the adults were served a mince pie and a cup of tea or coffee. First Class are also offered a cup of hot mulled wine and a sausage roll. (Vegetarian is available) Passengers with dietary requirements notify the Booking Office at least 5 days ahead of the departure date.
N.B Buggies can be stored on the train although there is limited space for these. If this area is full, there is a storage option on the platform which is monitored by Steam Dreams staff.
Family Travel Planning Resources We Use
Flights: We always use Skyscanner as it is user friendly, allows you to check deals for everywhere if not sure where to go, and seems to find the cheapest flight deals in most cases.
Tours and Activities: GetYourGuide has a wide range of family friendly activities around the world.
Accommodation: Booking.com is who we use when researching for places to stay ( we like their flexible cancellation policies. We do also check directly with larger hotels brands too.
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