The Severn Valley Railway's star is on the rise thanks to the new Disney smash, The Chronicles of Narnia.

Interest in the steam heritage line has been stoked by the train's three-minute appearance in the opening sequence of the film of C S Lewis's best-loved work, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Its headquarters has been snowed under with inquiries from people keen to visit the attraction, thanks to clues to its Midland setting featuring prominently in the movie.

The film opens with the main characters - young evacuees - taking the GWR steam locomotive from Paddington to the country.

SVR enthusiasts were thrilled to note that the names of actual stations on the 16-mile Kidderminster to Bridgnorth line used by the train were used instead of being substituted for fictional ones, as is usually the case.

"We've taken a lot of phone calls from people asking if Bradley Manor is running at the weekend to the point where we've now asked our Locomotive Department to roster the engine for timetabled services as often as possible during the coming year," said SVR marketing manager, John Leach.

The engine used in the film, released on December 9, was the 7802 Bradley Manor, hitched to four carriages.

Highley station on the Shropshire-Worcestershire border features strongly in the train journey footage, with action sequences taken from a helicopter, depicting Bradley Manor running at speed, and arriving at the showpiece GWR station beside the River Severn.

While countryside flashing past through the windows of the train is Shropshire, the countryside where the children are seeing alighting is New Zealand.

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SVR provided paint and upholstery matches so an authentic replica coach could be constructed for scenes filmed there.

"The feedback we've had since the film was released has been amazing," said Mr Leach.

The buoyant start to 2006 is compounded by record visitor figures to the attraction for 2005.

Severn Valley Railway (SVR) carried a quarter of a million people last year for the first time in its 35-year history.

The company also enjoyed their best-ever financial results, with revenue reaching £4.25 million.

SVR, which runs from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth, is one of the region's major tour-ist attractions.

General manager, Alun Rees, who is retiring this year after 13 years at the helm, said the news came as a welcome farewell gift.

He said: "We've come so close to the quarter million mark on several occasions, but this was my last Christmas and New Year as General Manager, so it's a really poetic way for me to finish."

The railway recorded their best financial results despite a year of high investment. Revenue levels topped £4 million for three years running.

The company plans to invest a further £6 million in the coming year, including investing in a new £4.5 million Severn Valley Visitor Centre and Engine House at Highley.

Trains run along the line every weekend throughout the year, with a seven days per week operation resuming in early May plus during the spring half-term break and part of the Easter holidays.