ALTHOUGH it is only October, some of Severn Valley Railway’s (SVR’s) Santa Steam Special trains are already full.

The company will run almost 100 Santa trains during December and staff handling bookings said two trains were already full and eight others had only limited availability.

Nick Ralls, SVR’s general manager, said: “It really isn’t a sales pitch when we ask people to book early. We will carry somewhere in the region of 32,000 people on the Santa Steam Specials this year - children, their parents, grandparents, their wider families and friends - and we do sometimes finish up having to turn late bookers away.

“That’s not something we enjoy doing. The message, as ever, has to be please book early for Santa.”

All weekend Santa steam trains, on December 4 and 5, 11 and 12, 18 and 19 and on Christmas Eve, will run from Kidderminster to Santa’s Grotto at Arley, where children will be received by Santa and receive their presents. The first trains start at 9.45am and run at half-hourly intervals through until mid-afternoon.

For the first time, the SVR Santa’s Herald operation - traditionally a vintage diesel unit train which runs between Kidderminster and Highley train, with Santa travelling on board and giving out presents to children at their seats - will go steam this year, creating an extra 1,000 seats for families.

The Santa Herald service runs twice a day, at 10.30am and 1pm, on the midweek days of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday December 21 to 23 only.