It is customary to see Santa flying across cities on his sleigh at Christmas time – but this year, the festive figure decided to opt for a much more conventional form of transport.

Mr Claus and his elves surprised children on board the First Capital Connect train to Brighton, which goes through Radlett and Borehamwood, on Saturday.

He boarded the Thameslink route at Bedford and spent the journey handing out gifts to children who were amazed to see the famous toymaker in the flesh.

The kids were also treated to free on-board entertainment from travelling face painters, balloon artists and magicians.

Customer service director for First Capital Connect, Keith Jipps, said: “We were thrilled Santa found time to join our service, the day trippers were certainly surprised.”

Santa and the elves were joined by St Albans Rotary Club, who collected money for charity throughout the journey.