Full steam ahead - The Roker Rattler is up and running.
The latest addition to Sunderland seafront is a red and white land train that will ferry passengers between Roker and Seaburn throughout the summer.
The service, which was officially launched yesterday, will operate every 20 minutes from lunchtime until dusk on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays and seven days a week during the school holidays.
As well as pick-up points at either end of the 1.4-mile run, the service will have to drop-off only stops along the seafront.
The Rattler is the work of engineer Ian Little and is being supported by Sunderland City Council. Portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture Coun John Kelly joined Ian for the launch.
“I am a welder by trade,” said Ian, “and I’ve been abroad for the last few years.”
I remember seeing something like this at the Sunderland Illuminations a few years ago. I thought it would be a great idea to bring it back.Ian Little
Stuck for a business idea on his return home, he remembered a previous visit to Sunderland seafront.
“I remember seeing something like this at the Sunderland Illuminations a few years ago,” he said.
“I thought it would be a great idea to bring it back, so I approached the city council months ago. It has taken a long time to line everything up and get everything right but new we’re ready.”
Ian picked up the train second-hand and has used his engineering experience to restore it to its former glory.
“I bought it and refurbished it myself,” he said.
“It has cost me about 50 grand.
“At the moment it is going to do weekends - probably Thursday to Sunday, but all through the school holidays, and it is going to run from here at Roker, up the hill, all the way along the length of the beach to Seaburn and round the back of the Seaburn Centre, which is where the other pick-up point will be.
“Traffic permitting, it will take about 20 minutes - it’s 1.4 miles each way, so about three miles in total.”
Coun Kelly said: “This is another fantastic addition to our fabulous seafront and I think it will be really popular with young and old alike.
“Sunderland is already lucky enough to have some of the best beaches in the country as well as an attractive seafront and fantastic events like the Sunderland airshow and the Illuminations.”
Tickets will be £2 one way, £3 return for adults and £1.50 one way, £2 return for children. Under-2s will travel for free.