TRAIN fan Edan Sargant took VIP status to a whole new level as he enjoyed a great day out at Carlisle Railway Station - as a Very Important Passenger.

The Cumbrian youngster was given special status by staff which saw him take a run out to Blackpool.

His treat came at a final community fun day held by Virgin Trains at the Citadel station, which will come under new control from Sunday when First Group and Trenitalia take over the West Coast Mainline franchise.

Virgin, who have operated it for 22 years, will be renamed as Avanti West Coast.

The six-year-old was invited down along with his family to the station following an open letter by his dad Nik to businessman and owner Sir Richard Branson, who highlighted his love of trains and thanked rail staff for their help over the years.

In the letter, Nik shared that Edan’s favourite train in their fleet was named after ‘Clic Sargant’, which shares his surname.

After staff surprised him with the special trip, he was taken on a guided tour of the station, and also presented with the nameplate from the Virgin Pendolino train to take home.

The last-ever Virgin Trains railway day saw industry partners, local businesses and community groups come together to set up stalls on Saturday.

The day follows the success of similar events held over the course of the last year and is designed to welcome the local community to the station and raise money for Virgin Trains’ charity partner, Rethink Mental Illness.

The national charity advises and campaigns on mental health issues, and provides support to those who need it.

A range of model railway displays, memorabilia, entertainment, pop-up shops and stands from local businesses and attractions were on display at the station, which provided visitors of all ages an insight into the region’s railway.

Carlisle station is the busiest station in the county and is used by thousands each year.

Services run every day along the Cumbrian Coast to Barrow, north to Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, east to Newcastle and Middlesbrough, and south to Leeds, London and Manchester.

Direct Rail Services (DRS), who have a depot north of the river Eden, also welcomed people into the driver’s seat of its Thunderbird locomotive, which was stood at the station throughout the day.

Performances from the Border Brass Band helped to get people in the festive spirit.

Two Alpacas from Blencogo Farm in Wigton also made an appearance and greeted visitors.

Mark Green, Virgin Trains station manager at Carlisle, said: “We had a great time welcoming so many visitors to our event to celebrate the important role rail plays here in the city and wider region.

“We enjoyed bringing together industry partners, businesses, and the community to champion attractions and produce local to Cumbria’s railway that we have been proud to serve for over 22 years.

“We hope it inspires people to take the train to explore what the region has to offer.”