IT REALLY is nearly Christmas now, with Santa arriving at the end of the month and travelling with us on the weekends from November 25 and 26 until the big day.

Nearly all the dates now have at least some departures that are completely full, and from the 9th December until Christmas Eve we are all but sold-out, so do please do book very soon if you want to join Santa and his Pixies on the magical Santa Special trains.

After Christmas, we will be continuing the festivities aboard the Mince Pie Specials, which run from Boxing Day right through to New Year’s Day.

Pre-booking is not required for the Mince Pie Specials, and with the real-ale bar on board, as well as a complementary mince pie on offer, we hope you will join us for some more festive cheer! The timetables and further details can be found on the railway’s website.

All this talk of being festive means it must nearly be time for the year-end reflections.

Having hosted Flying Scotsman this year was in itself a pretty special achievement, but for us it’s just as much about what has been achieved over the past 49 years, for we will very soon enter our 50th year of operation.

We will celebrate or 50th in style, remembering that June day back in 1968 when the re-opening special marked such an achievement.

Without the vision, the commitment, and determination of the founders of the Preservation Society and of those volunteers in the early days who had to work tirelessly to ready the railway for operation, the valley would have lost the railway, possibly for ever.

We certainly wouldn’t get to hear the steam whistle across Keighley’s town centre, nor get to marvel at the sight of the steam-hauled train making its way along the valley, and the film the Railway Children just wouldn’t have been the same without the charming Oakworth station as its setting.

Week in, week out, running increasingly venerable steam locomotives and carriages on the branch line, keeps this important part of history alive and available for future generations to enjoy.

It up all the time that can be offered by our group of over 500 volunteers and around a dozen paid staff.

I do hope that you will consider setting yourself a new year’s resolution to get involved, however much or little time you can offer, and whatever role on the railway is of interest to you.

We need as much support behind the scenes on engineering, business administration and technical work as we do in the front-of-house operational tasks, so please do get in touch so we can discuss the range of volunteering opportunities available.

* Have you missed any of Matt Stroh’s previous On Track articles about the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway? Don’t get steamed up, simply visit, click on What’s On then Out & About, and they’re all there for you to read.