Around 2,000 passengers have hopped on board North Tyneside’s new land train in its first two weeks.

The newest addition to Whitley Bay’s coastline, named Spirit of the Bay, has been spreading the joy among people from all over the world since its first journey last Tuesday (1 August).

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 £36m of investment in the coast.

According to latest figures, the attraction has already welcomed nearly 2,000 passengers from as far away as Spain and the United States.

Leanne Nicholson, Managing Director, 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.”

The train’s official launch took place at a special event on Friday night (11 August) to coincide with the start of the Summer Fayre at Beaconsfield in Tynemouth over the weekend.

North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn cut the ribbon to formally declare Sprit of the Bay up and running.

Mayor Redfearn 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.”

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 train currently operates between St Mary’s Lighthouse and the Playhouse with stops at Whitley Bay Mini Golf, the Rendezvous Cafe, Waves Leisure Centre, the Briar Dene pub and restaurant 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 journey in the near future.

During their journey passengers can see the various changes underway along the seafront, including the restoration of the Spanish City Dome and work to reshape the Northern Promenade.

It 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 1 hour, depending on traffic.

One-way adult tickets cost £2, or £3 return, and one-way child’s tickets are £1.50, or £2 return.

There are plans to extend the route in future to the North Shields International Ferry Terminal.

For more information visit www.cygnetevents.com or http://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/644/coastline-land-train  and find out more about coastal regeneration at http://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/642/coastal-regeneration

To view a map of the summer route visit: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1fbiTfTXuMe1t1xu52kPc5ZN5KAI&usp=sharing

To view a map of the proposed full route the train could eventually take visit: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1GUDQmbk-IgqtaHBYoupaOyeo4sc