A group of youngsters have been the first to ride on a land train ahead of its four-day trial.
The children, from the Tim Lamb Children’s Centre in Benton, were joined by Mayor Norma Redfearn to ride the train on Wednesday.
It is part of a four day trial – ending on Saturday – that will see the train run along Whitley Bay’s seafront from the Brar Dene car park to the plaza outside the Spanish City Dome.
Mrs Redfearn said: “It was a privilege to join these youngsters on this first trip and I hope they enjoyed the experience.
“We’ve received a lot of support for the idea of a coastal land train and I’m delighted we’re able to offer visitors the chance to ride it for free this summer, thanks to our kind sponsors.”
Lynn McManus from the Tim Lamb Children’s Centre, added: “Our families think the land train is a great idea but a lot of our children can’t cope with long queues because of their specialist needs.
“This way they get the opportunity to ride the train without having to wait around. I’m sure it’s something they’ll all really enjoy and remember.”
The land train will be free to ride, running between around 11am and 5pm, depending on conditions and passenger numbers.
It will start at the car park, head south on the footpath parallel to the Links Road, before turning onto the Northern Promenade. Pick-up points include the Rendevous Cafe and Panama Dip Skate Park.
It will travel at around 10mph and a full risk assessment has been carried out to ensure the safety of passengers and pedestrians – as it will be driven on pavements and the promenade.
North Tyneside Council recently outlined ambitions for a coastal land train in its £36m Whitley Bay Seafront Master Plan, and this summer’s trial aims to test out its popularity.
The authority has secured sponsorship from local businesses for the four day road test, and if the trial is successful then North Tyneside Council will explore options for bringing a more permanent summer land train or similar vehicle to the coast, as part of its £36m Seafront Master Plan.
The train has been leased from Land Train Hire Nationwide, and will be driven by owner Russell Warburton.
The four-day trial has been sponsored by North Tyneside-based businesses AIS Training, Grange Interiors and Kier North Tyneside.