Shropshire Star

A final wave as the mince pie express pulls out from station - with pictures

It is the first time they have run in more than a decade but a heritage railway's 'mince pie specials' have proved so popular they are already scheduled to return next year.

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Mince pie train rides from Llanfair Caereinion to Castle Caereinion on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. Pictured, a final wave as the train sets off..

The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway arranged three days of the special festive journeys for its post-Christmas schedule, running three trains each day.

In total around 500 people bought tickets for the events, and the railway's general manager, Charles Spencer, said there has been no hesitation in planning a repeat for next Christmas – with an extra date to be added for good measure.

He said: "I have been here for 10 years myself so it is at least that long since we ran them but I think it is even further back than that."

Mr Spencer said the events had proved popular and added: "Some people said they were really grateful because there are only so many board games you can play before murdering someone!"

Town crier David Salter with guard Richard Wiltshire

Mr Spencer said that local people had been the majority of those taking on the festive journeys.

He said: "Our catchment area is normally as far as Wolverhampton and Birmingham but on these trains it is more local, just people coming down to see the trains and have a ride."

The railway first opened in 1903 to link Welshpool to Llanfair Caereinion. The 2ft 6ins narrow gauge steam railway now operates as a tourist service, providing entertainment and education through its museum.

Mr Spencer said the enduring popularity of steam is one of the reasons for the railway's success.

He said: "There is nothing like a steam engine. We are a heritage railway that has been here since 1903. It was built by the community to serve the community and that is what we are doing now, with entertainment and education rather than moving sheep and cattle about as it used to."

The railway will now shut down until February 15, when it reopens for half term.