It was all aboard the electric train today as 50 local pre-school children were treated to a special visit on the City of Southend’s iconic pier.
Local children from Cockleshell Nursery, Stepping Stones Nursery, Monkey Puzzle Day Nursery and Elim Church Day Nursery, plus some children attending with their childminders, were invited to enjoy a ride on the new state-of-the-art and eco-friendly electric Pier train.
The heritage cream and green eco-friendly train was formally named in honour of Sir David Amess on 1 March by Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall as part of their visit to Southend-on-Sea to confer City status.
Heritage cream and green pier trains previously ran on the pier from 1949 to 1978 and the vintage design was agreed for the new trains following a public vote on social media in 2020.
Designed by Severn Lamb, world leaders in the design, supply and manufacture of light urban, leisure and resort transport, the Sir David Amess train is the first of two trains which will replace the existing blue diesel trains, which have been in operation on the pier since 1986. The second electric train is expected to arrive this summer and will go through the same rigorous safety checks before its launch.
Scott Dolling, director of tourism at Southend-on-Sea City Council, said: “I am delighted that these children were among the first to enjoy a ride on our new train which is part of a £3m package that will transport our pier and City into a bold, modern era that supports our City’s net zero ambitions.
“It’s fitting that our first invited visitors are children because they are the future of our City and someday might ride the same pier train with their own children. I hope today’s educational visit will plant some seeds about the importance of protecting our planet and how small changes, such as investing in electric transport, can make a big difference to climate change.
“It really is a fantastic new attraction for our wonderful iconic landmark and will be another huge boost for the country’s newest City.”
Margaret Scott from Southend-on-Sea is one of the new Pier train drivers. She said: “I drove the older diesel train for 20 years but today was my first day driving the new electric train with members of the public on board. It is very smooth, is easy to drive and it’s better for the environment.”
Louisa Titman, deputy manager, Cockleshell Nursery, said: “The children absolutely loved riding the new train today. Because of Covid, today has been our first real trip out in over two years. The children had been talking about it all week.”
Tanya Sturge, Elim Church Day Nursery, added: “Today has been really exciting and it’s the first time some of our children have ever been on a train. The journey was nice and smooth, and the children enjoyed it and were looking out the window at the nice scenery.”
The electric train is open and available for the public to ride on over the Easter holidays and beyond. For more information, including special events, tickets prices and opening times, visit www.southendpier.co.uk