Britain's poshest train returns to Ipswich for festive trip

The Northern Belle arrived in Ipswich for a special journey. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

The Northern Belle arrived in Ipswich for a special journey. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Passengers stepped into Christmas on board Britain's poshest train as it passed through Ipswich as part of a festive lunch experience. 

The Northern Belle, once part of the iconic Orient Express Group, jingled its way into Ipswich station at around 1pm today before setting off on a a five-hour round trip across the countryside.

Richard and Gill Guenigault about to board the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Richard and Gill Guenigault about to board the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The dining train features 1930s-style Pullman carriages named after British castles and stately homes.

Passenger Gavin Bilyard said: "It is a little bit of luxury for a couple of hours which you don't get everyday and the food and service is fantastic." 

Stuart and David Saunders waiting to board the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Stuart and David Saunders waiting to board the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Prices for the Christmas lunch aboard the luxury train, which features a seven-course meal, including a cheeseboard with biscuits and chutneys, are £289 per person. 

There is also a welcome champagne reception, a bottle of wine per couple and table magicians.

Passenger Graham Frid travelled with his wife and they have been coming on the Northern Belle since 2004.

Glamourous passengers wait to board the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Glamourous passengers wait to board the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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He said: "I like it because I'm old fashioned and it isn't just the Northern Belle but we also go on the British Pullman and Orient Express.

"I don't care what is pulling the train, whether steam or diesel, as long as the champagne glasses are always full."

Stacy and Claire waiting to board the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Stacy and Claire waiting to board the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Asked about worries over the Omicron variant, he added: "Looking at the demographic of people going on, the chances are most are double jabbed and have had a booster too." 

Doreen Urry came with her family and said they are regular riders on the luxury train.

Passengers enjoy some champagne as they set off on the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Passengers enjoy some champagne as they set off on the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

She said: "Last year was the first time in about 20 years I haven't been because of Covid, it is brilliant - the service is good." 

With more people opting for staycations due to restrictions on travelling abroad, the Northern Belle has been even more popular. 

Passengers enjoy some champagne as they set off on the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Passengers enjoy some champagne as they set off on the Northern Belle. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Ben Speer, train manager, said: "We have more people from the UK on board spending money they would on foreign holidays on this as a nice treat and something a bit different." 

For more information on The Northern Belle and a schedule of journeys, click here

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