A popular steam train-line service celebrated its best year for passengers.

The Epping Ongar Railway carried 41,804 passengers in 2018, compared to the previous record of 41,125 set in 2016.

Almost 14,000 train and Christmas enthusiasts came to ride the Santa Specials on his train between North Weald and Ongar in December.

Roger Wright, managing director, said: “The hard work and dedication of the Railway’s staff and volunteers has paid off with this pleasing result,

“The previous year was challenging as we saw a small drop in numbers. It is very good to see that was a one-off, rather than a trend and I look forward to welcoming more passengers.”

Other popular events for the ailway included the Real Ale Festival which saw more than 1,100 people turning out to see Peppa Pig and her brother George.

Dean Walton, acting general manager said: “I believe that we have pulled together an attractive range of events and services in 2019. Of particular importance are our lunchtime fish and chip trains.”

The 2019 season kicks-off in February starting with a half-term ‘Kids for a Quid’ offer, followed by an Egg Hunt over the Easter weekend.

Epping Ongar Railway will be marking the 25 years since they began passengers after services were withdrawn in 1994.