The South Devon Railway has announced that 2020’s Polar Express trains at Buckfastleigh have been cancelled.
This decision comes as the challenges regarding the Coronavirus restrictions continue and a continued rise in cases being reported.
The cancellation decision was made by organisers PNP Events in Telford, who also run other Polar Express events, such as at the Wensleydale Railway in North Yorkshire.
More than 16,000 people booked on last years Polar Express trains, and is another blow for the railway, having not run a train since the 17th March 2020.
Commenting about the disappointing news today, SDR Board Chairman Jon Morton said: “It gives me no pleasure to have to announce this sad news today that our Polar Express™ trains won’t be running this year after all in what has been a very difficult, challenging and bizarre season for us so far.
“The planned Polar Express™ services were providing us some hope of running trains and welcoming passengers again this year, but they too have now been dashed on the rocks by this dreadful pandemic.
“Unfortunately, this cancellation for the SDR follows a now nationwide trend.
“People may well be aware that our Devon neighbours at the Dartmouth Steam Railway has recently had to cancel its own ‘Train of Lights’ operation for this year too, and an announcement by PNP is also being made today about the cancellation of their other UK Polar Express™ event on the Wensleydale Railway in North Yorkshire.
“And the Mid-Norfolk Railway has also recently cancelled its planned Polar Express™ trains too sadly but, pleasingly, we understand our good friends at Seaton Tramway in Devon still plan to run their now regular Polar Express ™ operations this year.
“As a result of all this, the SDR is no longer planning to operate any regular passenger trains until the start of the 2021 season.
“The SDR is, however, working with its Heads of operational departments to come up with a revised approach for competence refreshing so that the railway can enable operational crews to keep their safety critical skills fresh and up to date.
“There will be lots of work to do and, as always, we’ll need the sterling efforts of our workforce to help with PW work, lineside clearance, station maintenance, competence management, risk assessing and all of the other things that go on to enable us to run trains!”
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