Let this be a reminder that wishes do come true. Years ago, when I was a wee baby intern for Secret London, and not the jaded, grizzled veteran editor I am now, I wrote about all the wonderful things other cities had, and posited the idea of nicking some of them to *improve* London. Well fate shone upon us some years ago, as 2020 saw the arrival of our own version of Chicago’s Holiday Train (which I had earmarked to jazz up Christmas transport), in the form of the Epping Ongar Light Fantastic. And in 2022 they’re back with a better than ever experience to spread festive cheer through the night.
The Epping Ongar railway is one of London’s true hidden gems; tucked up beyond the end of the Central line, it’s London’s very own working steam railway, and boasts one of the only abandoned Tube stations that still welcomes trains. So, it’s abandoned-ish. Families and transport fans alike can hop aboard their vintage trains for a joyous ride from Epping to Ongar, under the power of one of the line’s four steam engines or multitude of diesel engines. It’s an excellent day out, and from November 18, 2022, until January 15, 2023, things are going to be gleefully, luminously festive.
The Epping Ongar Light Fantastic
‘Twas a new addition for 2020, and Epping Ongar Light Fantastic saw the heritage trains bedecked in a plentiful array of Christmas lights, turning the classic engines into brightly-coloured blurs speeding through the night. Seriously, if the North Pole had a steam line, I reckon it would look a lot like this. Over the course of the special, festive journey, travellers are treated to a specially designed show that highlights the stations, rural setting, and woodlands that the journey goes through. You can expect light displays, music, and plenty of cute illuminated displays to take in. On-board narration heightens the experience as you’re guided along a story-driven adventure. They’ve also updated the show for a new-and-improved-for-2022 experience, so the festive feeling starts as soon as you step foot on the station platform.
Over the course of your one-hour trip, they’ll melt your heart with enchanting illuminations. I for one am extremely ready for it. Trips will depart two or three times a day, running through to January 15. Steam locomotives will be the standard for the experience, however Epping Ongar Railways does warn that circumstances may find the occasional diesel substitution. Just like last year, tickets will set you back £20, but you’ll want to act fast and grab your seats if you’d like to climb aboard this magical express! You can even grab a whole compartment just for you and your family and friends!
Find the Epping Ongar Railway at Station Approach, Chipping Ongar, Ongar, CM5 9BN. More info here.
Also published on Medium.