Owosso, MI - Tickets are officially on sale for the 2021 season of the North Pole Express (NPE), organized and operated by the Steam Railroading Institute (SRI)! These holiday excursions have been a tradition for the non-profit organization since 2004 and continue to grow in popularity. The North Pole Express will once again be powered by the world-famous Pere Marquette 1225, a 1941 Berkshire type steam locomotive that is the pride and joy of the SRI collection, thus providing passengers a ride back in time to the Christmas of yesteryear.
All North Pole Express excursions will operate on Saturdays and Sundays from November 20th to December 19th. There will also be an additional day of excursions on Friday, November 26th. All trains will depart from the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso for a four and a half hour, round trip excursion to the Village of Ashley’s Country Christmas. Passengers will enjoy a one hour and fifteen-minute train ride each way to and from Ashley, choosing six different classes of service. From vintage coaches to historic cabooses, each offers a different type of comfortable accommodation and Christmas ambiance. An all new class of service will be provided this year as “Claus Club” will have passengers ride in vintage 1950s dining cars. Upon arrival at the Village of Ashley’s Country Christmas, passengers will disembark for a two-hour Christmas party straight out of the past and will participate in the numerous activities the village has to offer. This includes live entertainment, having their picture taken in front of the 1225 and meeting Santa Claus himself.
The 1225 was built in October of 1941 by the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio for the Pere Marquette Railway. In 1957, the locomotive was retired and donated to the Michigan State University in East Lansing for display as an outdoor artifact to commemorate the steam era. In 1969, a group of university students commenced the restoration attempt on 1225 to operational service. Work continued in 1983 when the locomotive was moved to its new home in Owosso where the restoration was completed in 1988. Today the Pere Marquette 1225 is owned, maintained and operated by the Steam Railroading Institute. It’s part of the National Register of Historic Structures and is renowned for its role in the 2004 Warner Brothers Christmas Classic, THE POLAR EXPRESS™. 1225's blueprints were used as the prototype for the locomotive image as well as its sounds to bring the train in the animated film to life!
The Steam Railroading Institute will follow all local, state, and federal health orders for preventing the spread of Covid-19. Approved face coverings must be worn by all SRI staff/volunteers and passengers, ages two and up, in the SRI Welcome Center and on board the train except when actively eating or drinking. Should guidance or regulations change, we will provide updates regarding additional directives. This requirement is due to our event operating on trains classified as transportation conveyances by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA).