Almost 2,000 passengers have hopped on board North Tyneside’s new land train in its first two weeks.
The train, named Spirit of the Bay, took its first journey on Whitley Bay’s coastline on Tuesday, August 1.
Since then, it has attracted people from all over the world, with passengers from as far away as Spain and the United States.
One of the first lucky families to hop on board was Whitley Bay resident Lee Casey with her children.
After enjoying the ride, she said: “I think it’s a brilliant asset for Whitley Bay and the kids have all really enjoyed it.
“The route is lovely – to go from the town centre all the way along to the caravan park and lighthouse.
“I just think it’s a great asset for families and kids to come along on and enjoy this summer. It’s just a really lovely idea to link the town together.”
Her daughter Emily, who is eight, added: “I liked it when we went round the caravan park and then we went back around to St Mary’s Lighthouse.”
The land train is being run by Cygnet Events and forms part of North Tyneside Council’s Seafront Master Plan for Whitley Bay, which includes £36million of investment in the coast.
Leanne Nicholson, managing director at Cygnet Events, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled with the encouraging feedback from locals and tourists over the last few weeks.
“The genuine passion and knowledge of the coast of our drivers and conductors really adds to the whole experience.
“We hope the land train helps create long lasting impressions of North Tyneside, encouraging people to visit the borough again soon.”
Although the train has been running since the beginning of the month, a special event took place on Friday, August 11, to mark Spirit of the Bay’s official launch ahead of the summer fair at Beaconsfield in Tynemouth last weekend.
Mayor Norma Redfearn, who cut the ribbon at the event, said: “As a council, we rely on the support of businesses to provide the kind of things our residents have told us are important to them and the land train was one such example.
“The land train looks fantastic and I love the classic colours it is painted in – and the driver and conductor are very well turned out too!
“We are very ambitious here in North Tyneside and we would love to see the land train go all the way to North Shields so I look forward to that becoming a reality in future.”
Spirit of the Bay runs from Monday to Sunday, with the first departure at 10am from the Playhouse, and finishes at 5pm.
It will operate approximately every 50 minutes to one hour, depending on the traffic.
One-way adult tickets cost £2, or £3 for a return, and one-way child’s tickets are £1.50, or £2 for a return.
The train route currently takes people from St Mary’s Lighthouse to the Playhouse, with stops at Whitley Bay Mini Golf, the Rendezvous Cafe, Waves Leisure Centre, the Briar Dene pub and the caravan park.
However, there are plans to move the train from the road onto the promenade at Dukes Walk and along to the lighthouse for a more scenic route for travellers,
Additional plans are in place to extend the route along the River Tyne to the North Shields International Ferry Terminal, with a stop at the Old Low Light.