A SANTA Express train brought joy to schoolchildren earlier this month.

Northern ran a Northern Santa Express train on the Tyne Valley line from Newcastle to Hexham on Thursday, December 14. Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP) volunteers joined with Northern staff to make the event a success.

For the first time in many years, Santa came by train to the Tyne Valley and thoroughly enjoyed his trip from Newcastle to Hexham and back.

Hexham Courant: Arlo the Badger with Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership volunteersArlo the Badger with Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership volunteers (Image: Supplied)

TVCRP suggested schools close to the station in Newcastle. On the day, approximately 70 children aged four to six boarded the train.

Several of the children hadn’t been on a train before and all the children were very excited. An extra two coaches were added to the normal service train and Northern staff decorated the carriages with stickers and streamers as the train made its way up the Durham Coast before beginning its run along the Tyne Valley.

Whistle the Dog, Northern's new mascot, welcomed the children at Newcastle Central Station before the start of the journey.

Whistle was accompanied by Arlo the Badger from Bessie Matthews' book, “Arlos Adventures”, who came along to make sure the children were staying safe on their adventure.

A spokesperson from the Rail Partnership said: “Santa Special was a delight for everyone involved. The children loved interacting with Santa."

Northern Staff have been heavily involved with Christmas outreach programmes. Every child on board was given a present courtesy of Northern.

Children from the nursery adjacent to Central Station were unable to come, so were given a goody bag after the event.

A week later, Northern staff visited the Royal Victoria Infirmary, bringing Christmas gifts to the patients in the children's ward. There have also been enquiries about TVCRP's education offer as a result of this event.

Joseph Codling, TVCRP's director, commented: “It was a fantastic day – all the kids loved it and it was nice for Northern to do something positive for the community."

One of the headteachers said: “Thank you so much for letting us send a class on the Santa Train. The children had a blast, such a fun trip for them. They were all so excited and happy with their gifts.”