Tickets for Blaenavon's Heritage Railway's 2021 Steam Santa Specials go on sale at 8 pm on Monday 8th November 2021. Since the general announcement on Friday 5th November, we have received lots of enquiries from those wanting to find out more about the event.
Therefore, in addition to the general information and frequently asked questions provided on our main event page (link), we thought that we would answer a few common questions that you have asked. From the reasons behind our prices through to why we can't run more trains, we encourage you to read the below prior to tickets going on sale.
Q: Why are you charging a minimum fare of £50?
A: The minimum fare that we are charging of £50 (plus a small booking fee) for a compartment/accessible space inclusive of up to four people is in line with that being charged by similar heritage railways offering comparable Santa Specials products.
The price (excluding booking fee), which with the four included persons works out at £12.50 per head, reflects several key factors. These include the capacity of compartments, that there is only a limited number of them on each train, and the costs of providing the advertised gifts, refreshments and other facilities. Additionally, although we have no paid staff, as an operational heritage railway that is responsible for maintaining heritage steam and diesel locomotives, rolling stock, and all associated infrastructure, our overhead costs are high.
The £10 (£2.50 per person) price increase from 2020 also enables us to provide proper gifts instead of the general goody bags offered last year, thereby acting upon feedback provided by our customers.
As a not-for-profit organisation with unremunerated Directors/Trustees, all profits made through our operation get reinvested into our railway for its ongoing maintenance and development.
Q: Are there any discounts for smaller groups?
A: Due to the limited number of compartments that we have and the other factors outlined in the answer to the previous question, we will not be offering discounts for smaller groups during this event.
The decision to choose four as the included number of persons was heavily informed by last year's event, including both typical group sizes and the feedback and suggestions offered by visitors.
Q: How long does the experience last?
A: The experience will last for approximately 40 minutes following departure from Furnace Sidings station.
Q: Can additional babies/young toddlers travel on top of the standard 8 person capacity limit if they sit on a lap?
A: If a baby/small toddler can safely travel on an adult's lap, then they may travel in addition to the general 8 person limit.
Q: Where do I purchase tickets from?
A: Tickets will be available through our online booking system hosted by TicketSource from 8 pm (20:00) GMT on Monday 8th November 2021 - link here.
Q: Can we book via phone instead?
A: Regrettably, we are unable to provide a phone booking option.
As with everyone else at The Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway (marketed as Blaenavon's Heritage Railway), our Events and Commercial teams are made up entirely of unpaid volunteers who do all Railway work on top of their day jobs and/or other personal commitments. Therefore, they are unable to offer a reliable phone booking option.
Q: Will we need COVID-19 passes to attend the event?
A: At the time of the general ticket release (Monday 8th November 2021), COVID-19 passes will not be required to attend this event. However, this could possibly change following any subsequent law changes by the Welsh Government. Please read the below.
In Wales, the Welsh Government has introduced legislation that requires adults attending nightclubs, unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people in attendance, any outdoor or indoor unseated venues with a capacity over 4,000, or any event with more than 10,000 people in attendance to prove that they are either fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 prior to attending via an 'NHS COVID Pass'. Further information is available on the Welsh Government website here.
On Friday 29th October, the First Minister of Wales announced plans for the Pass's usage to be broadened further to include cinemas and theatres from Monday 15th November 2021. Furthermore, the possibility of additional extensions to cover more venues and events was also raised.
At present, neither our Railway nor the Steam Santa Specials event meets the criteria for requiring COVID-19 passes. However, given that the Welsh Government has raised the possibility of further venues/events being covered by the scheme in the near future, those booking tickets are advised of the possibility that the present situation may change.
Therefore, we please ask that you bear this in mind when booking - we will do our utmost best to keep customers in the loop regarding any further extensions. Please remember that our volunteers are not lawmakers and have no control over any potential COVID-19 pass introduction. Abuse will not be tolerated.
Q: Can you run additional trains in the mid-week for schools?
A: We would love to. However, we are operated entirely by volunteers, and at present, we just don't have enough (our Santa services are very staff intensive) to run additional mid-week services in December. This has also been further affected by delays to our internal training programmes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you would like to find out more about becoming involved visit our Volunteering page - link here!
We hope that the above answers some of your most commonly asked questions. Please don't forget to visit our main event page here for further information and additional FAQs.
JW 20:12 07/01/2021 - Additional question and answer on experience length added.