Children eager to ride the Virginia Railway Express Santa Trains may be out of luck. Most of the tickets for the Dec. 8 rides are already sold out.

Ticket sales started Monday morning, and the 3,605 tickets that were available to be purchased online sold out in four minutes, VRE spokesman Mark Roeber said. There were still a limited number of tickets available mid-day Monday at selected sites near train stations.

"They are flying out the door," Roeber said. Last year, online tickets sold out in about 11 minutes and the tickets were sold out by the end of the day.

On the Santa Trains, children and their parents will have an opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, receive coloring books and candy canes from Santa's helpers and hear performances from high-school choral groups. The trains will leave from the Leeland Road, Manassas, Burke Centre and Woodbridge stations.

But the trains are about more than just entertainment. Proceeds from the tickets go to Operation Lifesaver, which educates youth about the dangers of rail and being on train tracks. Additionally, the Leeland Road, Manassas, Burke Centre, and Woodbridge stations will be sites where people can drop off toys to donate to Toys for Tots.