(SOME OF) YOUR QUERIES ANSWERED

General

Whereabouts are you?


We're in Station Road, Hesketh Bank, between Southport and Preston and right next to Booths supermarket. Set your satnav to PR4 6SP. Here's a map:




When are you open?


We run every Sunday and Bank Holiday between April and the end of October. We also hope to run a Children in Need Day in November and five Santa Specials days in December, depending on the coronavirus situation The first train is 11.30 and the last 4.30. Trains currently run about every 30 minutes, to allow for thorough cleaning. See our Timetable page.




How long is the ride?


It's fairly short, about a quarter of a mile, but you can ride as many times as you like on your ticket.




Is the site suitable for the disabled?


The site is generally level, with a variety of hard surfaces and grassed areas. See our access statement for more details. The toilets include facilities for the disabled. At present we cannot take wheelchairs on our trains. However, we are building a brand-new access coach, which will have openings wide enough to take passengers in wheelchairs. Here's a picture:




Do we need to book?


Only for Santa Specials, via the link on the Santa page, when shown. Otherwise just turn up. For some other special events we may offer booking, but it will be optional. ALSO... you can now pre-book our ADVANCE ANYDAY tickets, at a discount from our standard fares. These are valid for any train, including on gala days, except for Santa Specials. They have no expiry date. Click here to book.




How can I contact you?


You can contact us by email, phone or old-fashioned letter. The contact page is here.




Can visitors drive one of your steam engines?


Yes, we run Drive-an-Engine days when you can learn all about driving an engine, and try it yourself. More details are here.




Can we hold a birthday party, and ride a train?


Yes, you can have a birthday party (or any other type of celebration) at the Railway, and we will run a train for your exclusive use. More details are here.




Can groups visit the railway?


Yes, we are very happy to host groups at the Railway, either on normal running days or as a special event. In the latter case we can organise site tours and special steamings, with a variety of heritage rolling stock. More details are here.




Can we get something to eat and drink?


We sell hot and cold drinks and sweets in the ticket office/shop. On special event days and Santa Specials we run a burger bar using a custom-built railway wagon. STOP PRESS - we now have our own cafe, The Waiting Room!




Do you have toilets?


Yes we have a shiny new toilet block, with facilities for the disabled.





Santa Specials

What does it cost?


The prices for the current year will be on the Santa page. The price for children is higher because they get a present from Santa appropriate to their age. Children under 3 under go free if they do not require a present and can sit on an adult's lap.




What do adults receive?


As well as the train ride, adults receive a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine (alcoholic or non-alcoholic).




Do we need paper tickets?


You will receive tickets by email, which you can print off and bring with you. Or you can just use your phone to show the guard the email with your tickets.




When do Santa Specials run?


We normally run on five days in the weekends before Christmas. The Santa page will give the exact dates.




When does the Santa page go up on the website?


It's usually late August or early September. It will be announced on the front page of the website. Book early to be sure of your preferred train!




What else is there to do?


We have our famous burger bar as well as the mince pies and mulled wine. There is an indoor play area for the children, with wooden trains and seating. Depending on availability, we usually have Johnson's mechanical pipe organ (dancing optional but a good way to keep warm), a merry-go-round and a hammer'n bell strength tester ('a prize every time'). We've even had a steam roller drift in to add yet more of the white fluffy stuff.




How do the Santa Specials work with social distancing?


You buy advance tickets online for the date and time of your choice. The tickets are for a whole compartment (up to 4 adults and 4 children). On the day, station staff check your tickets and show you to your compartment. The train takes you the short distance from Becconsall (the main station) to Toyland. There you stay on the train while Santa comes down the platform to visit each compartment. The children who have been good throughout the year (that's all of them) receive a present from the Bearded One, whilst a tame Elf or Snowman borrows your phone to take photos for you. Then it's back on the train to Becconsall, where mince pies and mulled wine await. Tea, coffee and cakes will also be available, and our famous burger van will be in operation. If you like, an Elf will take photos for you in front of the steam engine.




Is advance booking essential?


If you want to be sure of seats, yes. Almost all our Santa trains are fully booked, so if you just turn up you could well be disappointed. That said, we have sometimes managed to squeeze people on who have missed their train, got the date wrong, couldn't find us, etc., but we can't guarantee it.




What happens if we have to cancel a booking, or change to a different date or time?


Contact us without delay using the email facility on our Contact page. We'll do our best to sort something out. If you need to contact us on the day for which you have tickets, phone the Railway direct on 01772 815 881.




Do you run a steam engine for Santa Specials, or is it diesel?


Not one but two steam engines! Having two makes the shunting easier and helps to keep the trains on time. Also two locomotives means double the volume of steam clouds!





Redevelopment

Next door is a building site. What's happening there?


Persimmon Homes are building a housing estate, on land formerly owned by Henry Alty Ltd.




Is your site layout changing?


Our current entrance will be part of the housing development. The new access road will have a spur to a new Railway car park and pedestrian entrance towards the rear of our site.




Why do you need to raise a large sum of money?


For 50 years we had a short-term recurring lease with the landowners, Henry Alty Ltd. When they sold the brickworks land for housing we needed to buy our part of the land to safeguard the Railway's activites. We paid the market price - £250,000. Much of the money was loaned to us by members and supporters - we need to pay them back.




What plans are there for future development of the Railway?


As a priority, we need to replace the toilets with upgraded facilities, also alter our electrical and water services to take account of the housing development. Longer term, we hope to redevelop some of the buildings, as resources allow. The carriage shed is showing its age, and it would be good to have a museum/education facility. Smaller changes are already underway, such as converting part of the Engine Shed into a room for parties and special events.




Will the Railway still be open as usual?


We will maintain our programme of regular running of steam trains on Sundays and Bank Holidays, also our special events, such as Friendly Engines, Teddy Bears Picnic and Santa Specials.




How can I help?


There are several ways - become a member of the Railway, sign up as a volunteer, and/or make a regular or one-off donation. The Join Us and Redevelopment pages on this website give more details. Any help you can give is much appreciated, and will make a real difference to keeping this unique Railway operating in Hesketh Bank.





Covid-19

How can we be sure all necessary precautions are being taken at the Railway?


We hold the 'We're Good To Go' mark issued by the VisitBritain Tourist Authority, confirming that we comply with all relevant Government and Public Health guidelines and standards.




Can we buy tickets online or at the Railway?


You can just turn up and buy tickets at our standard fares from the Station Shop. ALSO... you can now pre-book our ADVANCE ANYDAY tickets, at a discount from our standard fares. These are valid for any train, including on gala days, except for Santa Specials. They have no expiry date. Click here to book.




Can we pay with cash?


We prefer contactless payment, but you can still pay with cash.




How are you using the 'family bubble' system?


We restrict access to the shop to one family bubble at a time. Also each bubble has their own compartment on the train, separated from other passengers by perspex screens.




Do we need to wear masks?


You only need masks in the shop - we can provide them if necessary. And if you just want to buy tickets you can do that through a window hatch.




Do you have hand sanitiser available?


Yes, we have sanitiser stations at various points which you can use.




Are you still selling food and drink?


The station shop will be selling hot and cold drinks, sweets, crisps, etc. as normal. STOP PRESS - we now have our own cafe, The Waiting Room!




How often do trains run?


Trains run about every 30 minutes from 11.30 to 4.30. The reduced frequency is to allow time for thorough cleaning of the coaches.




Can we get down from the train at the far end of the ride?


To ensure social distancing, we ask passengers to stay on the train at Delph while the engine runs round the train. Then if you want to get off to take photos with the engine, the guard can arrange this, one group at a time.




Can we still have as many rides as we like?


Yes, we are happy for you to have repeat rides on your day ticket. However if the train is very full, we may ask you to allow others to have a ride, and then get back on the train when it is less busy.




Will you ask us for any personal details?


We will ask the lead member of each family bubble for their name and phone number. This will help in virus tracking if required. Your details will be kept secure on paper only, and destroyed after 21 days.





West Lancashire Light Railway, Station Rd, Hesketh Bank, nr Preston PR4 6SP     

    Phone 01772 815 881                                      westlancsrailway@gmail.com