The Mid Hants Railway welcomed over 15,000 visitors during their world-first Steam Illuminations event.
13,000 programmable lights (which makes it a world first, rather than just on-off lights usually used on these types of trains) covered the locomotives and trains to create a magical show on the tracks from Alresford to Alton.
Passengers also wore LED wristbands which changed colour whilst the outside changed patterns.
The sell-out event ran from 4th to the 23rd December 2020 despite COVID-19 restrictions, which worsened after Christmas, and halted the event.
A £600,000 boost from the Culture Recovery Fund grant and a £250,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund supported the event and allowed the Watercress Line to cover staff costs after the lockdown in Early 2020.
The Watercress Line’s General Manager Simon Baggott said: “We are thrilled that our Steam Illuminations event got us on track throughout December, bringing much-needed and well-received festive fun to so many visitors.”
“Despite the challenges of the coronavirus tier restrictions and following the government guidelines, we are proud to have been able to go ahead with this unique event – the world’s first digital LED-lit train. It was a delight to welcome so many people of all ages back to the Watercress Line and provide them with a magical experience that they are sure to remember.”
“Everyone at the railway is enormously grateful to have been awarded the grants from the government and the National Lottery. Not only has it allowed us to take all the required measures to keep staff, volunteers and visitors safe, it will also give us the funding to maintain the key engineering skills essential to the business and the associated training of young employees.”
“We look forward to welcoming visitors back to the Watercress Line this year when, as the lifting of restrictions allows, we have an exciting programme of events planned.”
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