Rail lovers chuffed as event draws big crowd

Open day at Nene Valley Railway at Wansford EMN-160514-171322009

Open day at Nene Valley Railway at Wansford EMN-160514-171322009

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Thousands of people enjoyed free train rides during Nene Valley Railway’s first ever open weekend.

Guests at Wansford Station were able to take a look behind the scenes in the locomotive sheds and see steam engine restoration work in progress.

Open day at Nene Valley Railway at Wansford. The shed tour where engines are repaired.  David Donnor and Harry Wyn-Donnor looking at Thomas EMN-160514-171252009

Open day at Nene Valley Railway at Wansford. The shed tour where engines are repaired. David Donnor and Harry Wyn-Donnor looking at Thomas EMN-160514-171252009

They also learned about the heritage railway’s history, plans for the future and day-to-day operation, as well as visiting the 100-year-old signal box.

But it was the chance to enjoy a free train journey from Wansford to Yarwell which proved to be the biggest draw.

Marketing manager Jerry Thurston said: “We gave around 2,000 free taster rides over the weekend which people really loved and the feedback we received for the event overall was superb and exceeded all expectations.

“Running a steam railway as big as ours costs a lot and we need lots of people through the doors and spending money to ensure we can continue to welcome guests for many years to come.

“From speaking to people over the weekend, it seems not everybody realises that Nene Valley Railway is open all year round and we are very keen to put that straight.

“If you come along any weekend, or Wednesday, you’ll find us steaming and ready for visitors.”

Nene Valley Railway is run as a not-for-profit educational charity and relies on a loyal band of volunteers to help keep it running.

One of its star attractions, Thomas, is soon to return to the track after a £150,000 two-year restoration project.

He will be back in action on June 11 (for Friends of Thomas members only) and 12, and again on July 9 and 10.

This weekend, May 21 and 22, the Teddy Bear Express service will be running. Children can ride for free with a paying adult if they take a teddy along for the ride. See www.nvr.org.uk for details.