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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, experience the enchantment of a vintage Christmas with a magical journey through the scenic Leicestershire countryside aboard Great Central Railways much loved Santa Express! 

Great Central Santa Express

Great Central Santa Express

Kate Create Santa's Lost Wallet
Kate Create Santa’s Lost Wallet

A festive tradition for generations of families, this year’s steam-powered adventure at Great Central Railway promises to delight families and passengers of all ages.

Starting your journey in the festive splendour of the Loughborough Central Station, look out for Santa and his helpers as they leave their grotto before we’re all on board and the train departs on its return journey to Leicester North station.

Santa knows how to spread happiness and cheer and every child on board the Great Central Santa Express will receive a special Christmas gift from the man himself, as well as a Golden Ticket to ride the Great Central Railway for free throughout 2024 when accompanied by a fare-paying adult.

As Santa makes his way through the train there’ll be plenty of time for photos and for him to make sure that every child is on track to appear on this year’s good list! What’s more, they’ll receive a drink and treat as well as a Christmas Activity Pack filled with games, puzzles and colouring sheets to enjoy on board or at home. And there’s even a Goody Bag to take home as a keepsake of their Christmas Adventure.

It’s not all about the little ones though, as the grownups enjoy the splendour of the Leicestershire countryside and the excitement of the children, they can soak up the festive cheer with a warming Irish Cream Liqueur and mince pie. There’s also a full at-seat bar service, so guests can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride in style. It’s the perfect way to make magical memories for all the family this Christmas.

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Steam train rides with Santa have become a cherished tradition for families from across the region and we are thrilled to continue spreading the magic and joy of the festive season with our new Great Central Santa Express services. It’s a great day out for all the family and a wonderful way to start the Christmas celebrations.

-Simon Bracewell, Head of Marketing & Communications of the Great Central Railway

Great Central Railway

The Great Central Santa Express, is just one of the ways Great Central Railway is celebrating Christmas with festive afternoon teas and fine dining packages available, as well as once-in-a-lifetime gift experiences such as the chance to drive your own steam train as well as stocking filler souvenirs.  Anyone for a Station Master’s whistle? Pip Pip!

The Great Central Railway exists today because a group of determined volunteers, back in 1969, following closure by British Railways, wanted the line to be saved to recreate the experience of main line steam for generations to come.

Today we proudly cherish and develop their legacy as a contemporary visitor attraction to educate, entertain and bring value to our local communities.

Originally opened in 1899, the Great Central Railway later became part of the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923, then part of British Rail in 1948. Closed in stages, the last trains ran in 1969. Volunteers began to preserve the line immediately.

We operate passenger trains, first-class dining car trains and offer the chance for visitors to drive a locomotive. Film crews visit the railway and the national rail industry uses it for testing vehicles and training staff.

The GCR is currently raising funds to connect two separate halves of the line back together, a multimillion-pound project called ‘Reunification.’ One of the biggest schemes in railway preservation in the UK, several elements have already been completed. 

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Find more from The Great Central Santa Express now:

Event Dates and Ticket Information:

More information about the railway can be found at

The Great Central Santa Express runs from the 25th November until the 24th December with prices starting from £24.

For full timetable information and to book tickets visit

For booking queries, please contact the booking office at 01509 632323.

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