London’s nearest full size heritage railway, the Epping Ongar Railway says that its had its busiest year yet, thanks largely to themed events on the railway.
The railway, which runs along a length of former London Underground tracks carried 45,710 passengers in 2019, which was 3,906 more than the previous year. Passenger numbers were boosted by 16,000 in December with the Santa Specials.
Other themed events such as the train spotting friendly Real Ale festival, but also the ‘Fish and Chip’ specials proved to be very popular alongside the new Ploughman’s Lunch and Afternoon Cream Tea services.
Dean Walton, General Manager said, “We have learnt that in addition to riding on a heritage train and bus our passengers are looking for a complete experience. When we put that on whether through a dining service, or an event day the passengers will come. With that in mind, the staff and volunteers have crafted an exciting package of events and services for 2020 and we are sure that we will feature on the list of destinations for many people in London and Essex in 2020.”
Apart from the revenue that comes from these theme based events, it’s also a way for heritage railways to reach out to a wider audience for whom a day on an old train might not be a huge draw on its own, but add in something special, and the interest level jumps sharply.
The Epping Ongar Railway runs between North Weald and Ongar, and has a heritage bus link with Epping tube station on the Central line.