Arena Rail Holidays is featuring a range of new UK itineraries and festive tours as it anticipates an increase in demand for holidays by train.

The operator has added six UK short breaks to its Experience Europe & Beyond by Rail brochure for 2020-21 to tap into increased demand for close-to-home holidays, and is featuring five new festive breaks.

All tours follow Covid-secure rules, and there are precautionary checks with clients and suppliers pre-travel.

Managing director Steve Goodenough said he did not expect “huge numbers” of sales for the lates market but felt optimistic rail bookings for 2021 would look “healthy” by September.

Arena Rail Holidays brought back to work its business development manager for the trade and its five agent ambassadors, provided by marketing support company 3For, on July 1.

It hopes to double trade business within the next 12 months. Currently 10% of sales are through the trade.

Goodenough said: “For the next couple of months we will contact agents by phone or email rather than visit. From September we hope to start seeing agents.

“In June, the number of passengers who booked rail trips was 27% of the figure for the same month last year and I’m expecting July and August to improve on that.

“I hope to be close to similar booking levels to last year in September for the whole business. There is huge pent-up demand.”

The new five-day UK breaks are: Railway Tracks & Walking in the Yorkshire Dales, from £575; Enchanting Peak District & Historic Railways, from £495; Historic Railways & Medieval Durham, from £495; Highlights of the Jurassic Coast, from £549; Enchanting Peak District & Historic Railways, from £495; and Spring Gardens and Trains of Norfolk with Christine Walkden, from £649.

The five new festive breaks for December 2020 include a 10-day Marrakech Express at Christmas itinerary, from £1,795, and a seven-day Transylvanian Christmas, with Christmas Day lunch at Bran Castle, the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, from £1,149, including flights.