Polar Express : Why do we do it?
Three days into selling Polar Express Tickets for 2017, and with nearly 50% of available tickets bought, we thought it would be a good time to explain a bit about why a small, 100% volunteer run Steam Railway, decided to take on such a mammoth event.
Who we are:
It is important to state that no-one gets rich from the profits from the Polar Express Train Ride. All profits are invested back into the railway.
Telford Steam Railway is a heritage railway charity. The board of directors/trustees of the railway are all volunteers, and the majority have full time jobs and families as well. They give their time freely because they really do love what they do, and Telford Steam Railway is (usually) one big happy family. During the event last year Directors could be seen on car park duty, greeting passengers and getting them safely on board, doing overnight caretaker duties, filling generators with diesel, driving trains, fixing coaches, supervising craft activities and even cleaning toilets!
As well as the nine board members we have about 30-40 regular or semi-regular volunteers who give up free time in the week to improve our facilities, or at weekends to run our normal train service.
Basically, If you have any interaction with the railway before 1st December it will be with someone who has given up their free time to talk to you.
The Telford Steam Railway (Telford Horsehay Steam Trust Limited, to give it its full title) has been around since the mid 1970’s. Telford Development Corporation (TDC) formulated the idea of purchasing and restoring a steam locomotive for display in the former Horsehay Companies loco shed.
When BR closed it’s rail link to the adjoining AB Cranes factory, TDC purchased the line from Lightmoor to Horsehay leasing half the half mile Horsehay to Heath Hill section to THST. The steam railway was opened to the public in 1984. Since then THST has changed its name to Telford Steam Railway and become a registered charity in its own right, and done much to improve the visitor experience to the railway, including opening 2 more stations.
Plans, BIG plans!
As some of you may know, we have plans to extend our line and run regular steam services into the Ironbridge gorge, and hopefully to the site of the Ironbridge Power Station which is due to be demolished soon. In order to meet our goals we have 3 of miles track to lay, 2 Level Crossing to reinstate and a bridge to put in across a busy A road, and it is estimated that it will take in excess of £1m to complete. As we have had limited success with getting grants, we decided we needed to do something big to raise the money.
In Early 2016 the Board of trustees decided to take a big leap into the unknown and run a large scale theatrical Christmas event! And thus the Polar Express Train Ride at Telford Steam Railway came into existence.
We certainly learned a lot in the previous 12 months, and we are certainly planning to build on the fantastic success of last year!
If you want to know any more about us, come and visit us before Christmas and our volunteers will be more than happy to talk to you!
More information on Telford Steam Railway, and the other events that we run can be found here…