A RAIL company which provides day trips has announced it will be taking passengers back in time as an extra special train leads the way.

In celebration of the 175th anniversary of the opening of the Eastern Union Railway, the Steam Dreams Rail Co will be running nine commemorative trips from Colchester on the weekend of August 14 and 15.

It will all be under the steam power of the Mayflower, one of two surviving B1 Class locomotives, which was designed to haul express passenger trains as well as freight traffic.

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The EUR was built to link Colchester to Norwich and opened for public passenger service on June 15, 1846, from Colchester station to a terminus at Ipswich, a distance of 17 miles.

There were three intermediate stations, Ardleigh, Manningtree and Bentley, and it was the first railway to reach Ipswich.

On August 14, there will be two return trips leaving Colchester at 11.10am and 2.10pm, giving those onboard the opportunity to take a step back in time and enjoy a Champagne brunch or a Champagne cream tea.

The route will take passengers along the 175-year-old line to Bury St Edmunds, where the train will reverse before making its way back to Colchester.

There will also be an evening dining train going to Norwich, before the next day where it will head to Ipswich for another full day of celebrations.

Steam Dreams chairman and owner of the Mayflower, David Buck, said it was a “privilege” to be a part of the historic event.

He said: “We are delighted to be able to bring this special event to passengers in Essex and Suffolk so they too can be part of this historic occasion and celebration of railway engineering.

“The interest and enthusiasm from passengers to experience the sights, sounds and smells of a steam train as it thunders through the countryside at speeds of up to 75mph is wonderful. “It is a privilege to be part of this event and I am delighted Steam Dreams, with the help of Network Rail, have been able to make it happen.”

Heritage railway volunteer and rail enthusiast Edmund Crosthwaite, who has been working on the programme with Steam Dreams, added: “I want to help inspire a whole new generation of rail enthusiasts.”

Visit www.steamdreams.co.uk/circulartours.php for more information and to book tickets for any of the journeys.