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Bluebell Railway Blog:
Archive 2017


Please be aware that due to the historical nature of this page, some of the links on it may be out of date.

The Current What's New page contains all the recent update information.

Also see the 2016, the 2015, the 2014, the 2013, the 2012, the 2011, the 2010, the 2009, the 2008, the 2007, the 2006, the 2005, the 2004, the 2003, the 2002, the 2001, the 2000, the 1999 and the 1997-8 "What was new" archive pages.


Blog and Web-site Update Archive 2017

50049 in platform 3 at Horsted Keynes - David Long - 29 March 2017 30 March: Stop Press
  • The timetable for our Diesel Gala, with revised locomotive allocations, has been re-published.

  • The Saturday evening Beer-Ex will be hauled by the class 20s. We hope everyone has a great time!

  • David Long's photo shows 50049 with the two class 20s in the newly reopened platform 3 at Horsted Keynes on Wednesday.

  • Martin Lawrence has added some further photos to his March Gallery, including the wheelsets for Camelot's tender, returned from the South Devon after re-tyring.


GBRf's Class 73s on the viaduct - Roy Watts - 30 March 2017 30 March:
  • We have a Gala! Starting tomorrow, our 3-day Diesel event has come actually together! The best laid plans (for Westerns and Warships) have, after 5 loco failures, become an English Electric event, with 50049 'Defiance', 20205 and 20189, 73107 and 73119, plus resident 09018 on a morning trip. Roy Watts' photo shows the arrival of the 73s this morning.

  • Andrew Crampton's photo below shows 20205 + 20182 & 50049 approaching Hurst Green Junction yesterday afternoon. Julian Clark's photo shows the same formation on arrival at East Grinstead mainline station.

  • Martin Lawrence's short video shows the 20s and 50049 at Sheffield Park yesterday evening, proceeding slowly through the platform as clearances are checked.

20205 + 20182 & 50049 approaching Hurst Green Junction - Andrew Crampton - 29 March 2017 Same formation on arrival at East Grinstead mainline station - Julian Clark - 29 March 2017
Platform 2 roads drainage at Horsted Keynes - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017
News Update An update on the trackwork with thanks to Bruce Healey. Yesterday was a busy day at Horsted Keynes, hence there are a lot of photos.

Following from Jon Goff's last report, a big vote of thanks to the Infrastructure volunteers who turned up in large numbers to ensure that the deadline of pouring the concrete over the Platform 2's subway was completed at the end of last week. Friday is usually a quiet day for volunteers but their dedication ensured that the concrete had the weekend to cure thus not losing us several days against our schedule.

On Wednesday, the remaining 2-road trackbed was scraped, the drainage trench, terram/polythene/terram, drainpipe and the ballast base completed. We almost finished grading and compacting the ballast.

Platform 3 has been tamped again and passed back to operational use.

Bruce's first photo shows, in the background, the digger cutting the central ditch, while in the foreground all the other operations can be seen. Note the crossing drain up near the digger.

The photos below show more detail, firstly rolling out the Terram in 2-road. Where track has already been laid, S&T need to ensure that track circuits operate and that cable operated signal are still functional. Here, the bond wires across a track joint are being fitted on 3-road.

Rolling out the Terram in 2-road - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017 Track circuit bonding work in 3-road - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017

The track chairs over the subway in 2-road are being readied. The concrete pads have been cast. Rubber pads are located between the chairs and the concrete. This task was completed by the end of the day.

Next we see a close-up of the tamper in operation on Platform 3 road. Note the track lifter to the right and the pair of tines either side of the rail. The ballast is only compacted under the rails.

Preparing for fitting chairs over subway in 2-road - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017 Tamping in progress in 3-road - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017

The ballast is levelled using a laser and receiver on a staff. The new track in 2-road will be 8 inches lower than the old and the difference needs to be graded in. The laser has a gradient function simplifying this task.

Platform 3 has been released to traffic. The final photo shows the first use of it, as it is gauged for the three visiting locomotives.


Grading ballast in 2-road - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017 3-road released for traffic - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017

847 with the combined Wealden Rambler and Golden Arrow on Mothering Sunday - Peter Edwards - 26 March 2017 29 March:
  • S15 No.847 is seen in Peter Edwards' photo at Three Arch Bridge with the combined Wealden Rambler and Golden Arrow on Mothering Sunday.

  • Diesel Gala: 31 March to 2 April
    Sadly 50035 has been withdrawn due to a brake problem, notwithstanding sterling efforts to get it working overnight, but 50049 'Defiance' and the Class 20s have now arrived at East Grinstead. Stepping in to the breach, we say a huge "thank you" to our friends at GBRf who will be supplying us with two Class 73s in the shape of 73107 and 73119, which will join our resident 09018 (on a brake-van turn) and Sentinel shunter 'Skippy' for "Driver for a Fiver" experiences (Saturday and Sunday only) at Horsted Keynes. To be able to obtain replacement locomotives, albeit ones which have visited us before, at such short notice, is a fantastic achievement.
    You can follow the event on Facebook.
    The timetable will remain as published but with the 20s replacing D6700 and the 73s replacing 50035, except for the final 12-coach double-header which will now be re-jigged.

  • Steam-hauled trains between Sheffield Park & East Grinstead run daily 3-12 April to our Service 2 Timetable.
    See Timetable Calendar and Special Events & Offers
    No need to book in advance, but if you book at least 8 days in advance you can save money with our Bluebell Bonus tickets.

  • Last Saturday, Vice President Roy Watts had afternoon tea with Dame Vera Lynn and members of her family and presented her with a card signed by Bluebell Directors, Officers, Trustees and members of the Holden Family to mark her 100th Birthday. Dame Vera was a very close friend of our late President, Bernard Holden, actively supporting him and the Bluebell, most recently at the launch of our 50th anniversary appeal.

    The house was full of so many flowers and naturally there were hundreds of cards, including many from the Royal Family and well known stars from the world of show business. Amongst them was a model of the WD 2-10-0 carrying her name from the owning group. This loco is now subject to an appeal for its restoration.

    You will be pleased to learn our card - thanks to Derek Hayward for his kind assistance - took its place amongst the good and the great! The Society will also make a donation to her children's charity.


Dame Vera Lynn with her Bluebell birthday card - 25 March 2017 Roy wishing Dame Vera Lynn a happy birthday - 25 March 2017
27 March:
  • Mike Anton has experimented with producing a time-lapse video of the preparation of the Q-class shot on Saturday morning.

  • Video shot on Saturday 18 March by Ted Polet from the Netherlands, featuring a journey behind the Q-class and also shots of the C-class.

  • News Update An update covering more of last week's work on the trackwork though platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes, with thanks to Jon Goff.

    More atrocious weather demonstrated the need (first photo below, on Wednesday) to install the drainage under the tracks when everybody just wanted to go home and dry out. So lunch break was forfeited in order to reach the day's target and go home early. However the afternoon brightened up and we ended up staying later than normal, achieving reconnection of road 3 (second photo below) and putting in the drainage under road 2 north of the subway and ballasting it ready for the next panel to go back.


Clay sub-bed and rain - Jon Goff - 22 March 2017 Platform 3 reconnected - Jon Goff - 22 March 2017

Work then concentrated on the shuttering and the reinforcement for the concrete over the subway. This proved to be quite intense but with help from "the little people" this was completed on Thursday together with dropping all the studs (316 stainless) to be set into the concrete for the rail chairs. To do this the rails were supported slightly higher than the finished height so that an extra nut could be fixed under the chair to stop the studs wobbling around during the concrete pour.

Help from the little people - Jon Goff - 23 March 2017 Detail of studs and reinforcing - Jon Goff - 23 March 2017

Matt Crawford and Mark giving the final float finish - Jon Goff - 24 March 2017 While this was going on further digging out, levelling, drainage and ballasting on a waterproof membrane was carried out on road 2 with two-thirds now done.

Friday was the critical day as the concrete had to be laid then to give it a long enough hardening time before trains can use it over Easter. After some final gauge and position checks (to the millimetre) the concrete was poured and allowed to settle before being given a final float finish by Matt and Mark in the evening, as seen in Jon's photo on the right.

The foot crossing at the platform end was also reistated as it was required for wheelchair access the following day. It has been redesigned so that it can now be removed easily for tamping and other track maintenance.


20189 and 20205 in Birmingham, 2016 - Robert C Jones 26 March:
  • So it's Choppers and Hoovers at our 3-day Diesel Gala which starts on Friday 31 March.
    We are pleased to announce that, subject to final sign-off, we plan to replace D6700 with not one, but two locomotives: 20205 and 20189 are joining 50035 'Ark Royal' and 50049 'Defiance'.

    Real Ale beer tent at Kingscote Station and Real Ale bar "At the sign of the White Horse" on coaching set B.

    Special 'latecomers' tickets are priced at just £8.50 per adult for those arriving after 4pm each day.

    Details of the catering arrangements for the weekend are also available, as is the Timetable (in which the pair of 20s replace the workings allocated to D6700).

    Many thanks to Robert C Jones for the photo, showing the pair of 20s last year at Small Heath, Birmingham.

  • Brian Lacey's photos below show two Southern Railway Maunsell locomotives working yesterday: S15 No.847 pauses at Horsted Keynes for wedding guests to board the Pullman Special, and Q-class No.30541 has just arrived at East Grinstead with its third trip of the day on the service train.

847 at Horsted Keynes as wedding guests board the Pullmans - Brian Lacey - 25 March 2017 Q-class at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 25 March 2017
Q and S15 in the spring sunshine at Sheffield Park - Mike Anton - 24 March 2017 25 March:
  • Mike Anton's photo from yesterday afternoon shows the Q and S15 basking in the spring sunshine at Sheffield Park

  • Steam-hauled trains between Sheffield Park & East Grinstead run this weekend to this Modified Timetable and
    daily 3-12 April to our revised 2017 Service 2 Timetable.
    Tickets may be obtained on arrival - Book at least 8 days in advance for Bluebell Bonus discount

  • Next weekend (starting on Friday) is our Diesel Gala: 31 March to 2 April.

  • The countdown to the arrival of 'Flying Scotsman' has started.
    Flying Scotsman - Flying South takes place 13 to 19 April 2017


60103 'Flying Scotsman' at York - Michael J Alderdice - 25 February 2016 24 March:

Flying Scotsman - Flying South
13 to 19 April 2017

Come and see everything we have to offer, watch Flying Scotsman at close quarters, and enjoy unlimited travel all day on our own trains for £25. Beat the queues and book ahead.
Children aged 3-15 years half price.

  • Driving: park your car at Horsted Keynes (RH17 7BB)
  • Come by train to East Grinstead (open to those intending to travel only)
  • Bus service from Haywards Heath: catch the specially arranged Compass Service 22
Limited parking may also be available at Sheffield Park, where car parking is mainly intended for those holding tickets to ride behind Flying Scotsman.

If you just want to look at the passing trains, admission to our stations at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes and Kingscote will be available on the day at £10 per station. Stay as long as you like.

Additional attractions include visit of the miniature 'Typhoon' from the RH&DR to recreate the famous 1927 photo of the two locomotives together.
Food, drink and picnic areas are available. Visit our Museum and Loco Sheds at Sheffield Park.

Further information is available on the Flying Scotsman - Flying South web page.

Photo above: 60103 'Flying Scotsman' at York - 25 February 2016, with grateful thanks to Michael J Alderdice.

Bluebell Railway variety


23 March:   We opened our extension to East Grinstead 4 years ago

Typhoon at Horsted Keynes for 50th Anniversary Gala - Richard Salmon - 8 August 2010

  • Flying Scotsman - Flying South: 13-19 April With the visit of the miniature Pacific 'Typhoon' from the RH&DR whilst 'Flying Scotsman' is with us, we will be able to recreate the iconic 1927 photo of the two locomotives together. The photo by Richard Salmon shows Typhoon on a previous visit to the Bluebell, at Horsted Keynes in August 2010 for our 50th Anniversary Gala. On this occasion, the 15-inch gauge locomotive will be on display at Sheffield Park Station.

  • News Update The Bulleid Society have recently updated their web site News Page with pictures covering Sir Archibald Sinclair's boiler repair and some of progress on Coach No.5768.

  • New video covering Winter steam on the Bluebell Railway from Nick Dearden.

  • Cathedrals Express visits The Bluebell Railway - Thursday 13 July - Book via Steam Dreams.

  • Full Steam Ahead Driving Experience - 12, 17 May, 13, 22 Sept - Come along and experience firing and driving one the Bluebell's fleet of historic steam engines, BR 5MT No.73082 'Camelot'.

  • Join our Mystery Tour on a luxury newly renovated 1960s Vintage Bus on 10 June.

  • Unfortunately we have learned that the NRM's class 37 will not now be available for the 31 March - 2 April Diesel Gala due to some issues with its braking system. Obviously this is disappointing news but we are working hard to try to secure an alternative visitor, to work alongside 50035 'Ark Royal' and 50049 'Defiance'.

  • Update with the positions in the Football Competition as of 16 March. This is a fund-raiser for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.

  • News Update A further update with progress on Monday and Tuesday on the trackwork at Horsted Keynes, with thanks to Jon Goff.

    Despite the atrocious weather on Monday, 3-Road had all the levelling compound poured in place for each of the rail chairs on the east rail. Scared of it being washed away, the west rail levelling was left until Tuesday and work moved over to 2-Road. The rails had their ends trimmed and drilled at the south end and the first rails to the north of the subway removed. The subway reinforcement was finished and is now waiting for the rails to be supported over the top so that the stainless steel studding can be hung in place, all of which has now been cut and made ready.

    The first photo shows the state of play at the end of Monday, and the second shows a rail being trimmed to length. The cutter clips onto the rail and pivots down to cut the end square.


Progress as at end of Monday - Jon Goff - 20 March 2017 Trimming rail-ends in 2-road - Jon Goff - 21 March 2017

The next photo below shows the application of levelling compound completed for the west rail in 3-Road and, with the east rail compound set, rubber pads were cut out and put in place and the chairs fitted ready for the rail to be inserted. Some final tightening of the nuts and a bit of juggling with some of the ferrules is all that is required.

By the end of Tuesday, all the track panels up to a few feet from the subway in 2-Road had been completed giving access to the Ardingly siding again. The next two panels north of the subway have been removed, dug out and levelled, as seen in the last of Jon's photos below, ready for the drainage ditch to be dug under the middle of the four foot.

Grouting of chair bases complete in 3-road - Jon Goff - 21 March 2017 Progress as at end of Tuesday - Jon Goff - 21 March 2017


SR Q-class with the GN Saloon at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 12 March 2017 20 March:
  • Brian Lacey's photos from a slightly overcast day this Saturday show, on the right, the Q-class with the Great Northern Directors' Saloon, which usually runs in public service (for first-class ticket holders, or on payment of a supplement) on the third weekend of each month. Check the saloon's page for confirmation of dates and to reserve a table (although reservations are not usually necessary). That below shows the H-class (which would be hauling the Wealden Rambler afternoon tea train) being prepared for service on Saturday 18 March.

  • News Update Report and photos on current work on The 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society's van.

  • Martin Lawrence has added some photos from recent weekends to his March Gallery including that below, showing Jim describing working in the locomotive department during the March Find Out More volunteer recruitment day.

H-class being prepared for service - Brian Lacey - 18 March 2017 FOMD in the Loco Department - Martin Lawrence - 12 March 2017
Platform 2-3 roads at Horsted Keynes - Bruce Healey - 15 March 2017
News Update We catch up with last week's Infrastructure News with thanks to Bruce Healey, Barbara Watkins and Jon Goff. The week saw much better progress than the previous one where other infrastructure distractions, such as the main road-railer failing and trying to catch fire half way down Freshfield bank, had taken work away from the main project!

The first photo from Bruce Healey shows the situation in platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes at the start of play on Wednesday last week (15 March), with the track taken up over the Platform 2 underpass and enough old concrete removed to allow the metal spreader plates to be located (as on 3-road). Looking now at platform 3 road, the rail over the subway has been taken up to allow the trackbed either side to be lowered (it had been deliberately left too high to allow the concrete to be poured).

During the course of Wednesday, the track bed through platform 3 was lowered either side of the subway, and the remaining sleepers laid. The shuttering from Platform 3 was usable for Platform 2 with only slight modification - this is now in place as is the waterproof membrane (see photo below). We still have a lot to do before concrete can be poured, including completing the reinforcing structure and lay track over the subway (again one inch too high to clear the concrete), attach the chairs, locate the chair studs and bolt them to the reinforcing etc.

The second photo below shows the stripping and levelling of the trackbed at the south end of Platform 2. We also did some fettling of the track on Platform 3. When joining used track, we often find the track at different levels at the join owing to different wear. To overcome this, we use special fishplates with a step in them. We have a stock with differing steps in sixteenths of an inch increments. To get down to a thirty-second of an inch difference, specially made shims are used. Two pairs of track joints needed these step plates. This is standard railway practise.

2-road subway waterproofing membrane - Bruce Healey - 15 March 2017 Digging out 2-road - Bruce Healey - 15 March 2017

By Friday evening, the reinforcing cage over the subway on the platform 2 side had been completed, as seen in the photo below taken from the cab of the road-railer. The south end of Platform 2 has had the centre drain dug, the terram (fibreglass) - polythene - terram sandwich laid, the drain pipe put in place and the section ballasted and compacted as seen in the second photo, prior to track laying. Both these photos were taken by Barbara Watkins.

2-road subway reinforcing and shuttering - Barbara Watkins - 17 March 2017 Ballasted 2-road - Barbara Watkins - 17 March 2017

Jon Goff now brings us up to date as of the end of last week.

The concrete over the subway for road 3 is still being allowed to continue to harden before any major weight is put on it. However it has already reached a very hard state due to being a very strong mix and being well vibrated into place, so the final levelling compound can be put in place. As we want to get the rails levelled very accurately, a 5-10mm depression has been gunned into the concrete surface around the area where the rail chairs will sit and a screw plugged into the centre of each of the chair positions. Using the laser level set up at the reference datum point on the platform, each screw has been adjusted to exactly the same height to within less than 1mm! These then form a local datum for the levelling compound, pored and trowelled in place. The process is seen in Jon's two photos below. This should all be completed for all 16 chair positions on Monday.

Depression cut into concrete surface, with datum screw fitted - Jon Goff - 17 March 2017 Levelling compound to provide accurate height - Jon Goff - 17 March 2017

There will be a rubber pad placed on top of the (fast-setting) compound and the rail chair placed on top of that.

All the original rails from 3-road have had the end 650mm cut off, re-drilled and replaced as the rails were in basically good condition with good heads and running on them. Similarly the majority of the hardwood sleepers were in good condition so they have been put back with only 40 replacements needed to be found and drilled. They are all in position with all the rail replaced and roughly aligned ready for the tamper, except for 4 sleepers by the north end drainage pit and the rail over the subway. Full connection right through and the ability to pass traffic through under caution should be possible by the end of next week. Additionally the approach into road 3 has been realigned to give a much smoother curve between the points and the platform.

Start of relaying Platform 2 road - Jon Goff - 17 March 2017 Turning to 2-road in earnest, the first action was to remove the pair of rails over the subway and start to repeat the work as carried out on 3-road, as described above. In three days as much work has been completed here as in the previous three weeks on 3-road as the job in hand is now well defined. The excavation is complete, the metal plates are bedded down in place, shuttering complete and most of the reinforcement in place, as in the 3-road reports on 2nd, 3rd and 6th March. The concrete should be poured around the middle of this week.

While the work around the subway was being done, the rest of the south end of 2-road was lifted, fully dug out, drainage installed, waterproof membrane installed (Teram - plastic - Teram sandwich) ballasted and the first panel relayed. This panel is critical as it is required to regain access to the Ardingly siding and the ballast pile.

Completion of the bottom half of 3-road this week has enabled the road-railer access to work on 2-road. Jon's photo above/left shows 3-road reconnected and 2-road being relayed 8 inches lower than before.
 
Muddy P-way yard - Jon Goff - 17 March 2017 Other work continues to clear up the yard after the Holywell relay. Many chairs have been removed from the life expired sleepers and the sleepers disposed of with the worst of them being burnt. Scrap has been collected together with some being exchanged for more good sleepers. Matt Crawford has arranged many such deals which has save the railway many thousands of pounds over time.

Finally some security lighting is been put in over the new access gate and infrastructure lobby although that is not yet complete. Some time is required to put our own infrastructure area in order after the road 2 and 3 project is finished as this is the current state of our "office"! It is not a pretty sight from the train and the team have to walk right through it carrying tools several times every day.


SR Q-class runs round at Sheffield Park - Brian Lacey - 4 March 2017 10 March:
  • Maunsell Q-class No.30541 is seen running round its train at Sheffield Park in Brian Lacey's photos from Saturday.

  • We are running public steam trains each weekend in March, to this Timetable. Tickets can be purchased on arrival, but if you do book at least 8 days in advance, you can take advantage of our Bluebell Bonus discount.

  • The Curry Evening supper train planned for 18 March has now been rescheduled to 28 April and a choice of Curry or Fish and Chips can be selected at the time of reservation - phone 01825 720800 to book.

  • News Update We have a further report on the work in Platform 3 at Horsted Keynes, as of Wednesday, with thanks to Bruce Healey.

    With the concrete raft over the subway now setting, we have now laid out the sleepers (except either side of the subway) and some of the remaining rails for Platform 3; some of the replacement sleepers are awaiting their chairs.

    The rail across the subway will have to be taken up to remove the shuttering around the concrete and to put pads under the rail chairs which bolt down on the concrete. The concrete will be allowed to harden until the end of the month before trains pass over it. Bearing in mind that the track over the subway has still to be lowered by an inch, the difference between the new level of the rail in platform 3 to the current level in platform 2 can be clearly seen.


The load bearing concrete over the subway at platform 3 - Bruce Healey - 8 March 2017 Sleepers in place - Bruce Healey - 8 March 2017
Elephant Van S4601S at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 4 March 2017 8 March:
  • Brian Lacey's photo shows the now externally complete BR(S) scenery van, which was modified on BR for the carriage of elephants, and which has now been totally refurbished with the help of an Arts Council England Resiliance Fund grant. Most recently it has been lifted using the new second set of carriage jacks inside the new OP4 shed to have the heating/air-conditioning units fitted. Work is now focused on fitting out the interior to act as a children's play area.

  • Diesel Gala - 31 March to 2 April: Tickets are now available - ring 01825 720800 with any queries and to book. The timetable is available to download here.
    Visiting locomotives are 50035 'Ark Royal' and 50049 'Defiance', plus the BR Type 3 class-pioneer, D6700 (later numbered 37119 and 37350).
    Early morning full line brake van rides behind 09018 will depart Sheffield Park at 8.10am, and include a trip down the Ardingly Siding on the return leg. Tickets for this trip (which includes travel for the rest of the day) are 30pp and are very limited and must be pre-booked. Price will also include a drink and breakfast roll. Ring 01825 720800 to book your space.
    Driver for a fiver at Horsted Keynes station will be running on the Saturday and Sunday only, using our Sentinel Diesel shunter.

  • News Update Update to the Infrastructure News page with thanks to Bruce Healey, collating reports in this Blog about the relaying of track at Holywell, which was completed a month ago.

  • On Sunday 5th March 2017 our Carriage Shop proudly donated £1,500 to the Bluebell Railway Museum to fund the acquisition of an original London, Brighton & South Coast Railway artefact (below) which is now on display in the Museum at Sheffield Park Station. Chris Wilson's photo shows Peter Allibone, a long-standing Carriage Shop volunteer, presenting the donation cheque to Tony Hillman Assistant Curator of the museum.
    This large, 28" diameter, cast iron LBSCR Coat of Arms would have been attached to a bridge or some other structure during the building of a part of the railway in 1865. The original location of this item is unknown though two exist on the bridge which carries the Battersea Park to Clapham Junction line over Battersea Park Road by the entrance to the station.
    The Carriage Shop would like to thank all those that have purchased books, models or other items from the shop at Horsted Keynes, which has made this donation possible. For more information, and to confirm opening times, visit The Carriage Shop's facebook page.

Presentation of cheque - Chris Wilson - 5 March 2017 LBSCR Plaque - Chris Wilson - 5 March 2017
SR Q-class brings its train into East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 4 March 2017 7 March:
  • Two more of Brian Lacey's photos from Saturday. On the right the Q-class brings its train into East Grinstead, and below the H-class sets off from Sheffield Park with the Wealden Rambler afternoon tea train.

  • News Update Bruce Healey provides another report and photos as of yesterday on work in platform 3 at Horsted Keynes.

    The status at first thing Monday morning was that the Platform 3 track had been laid from the north down as far as the subway (as seen in the photos in yesterday's report, below). Many thanks to the 9F Club, who on Saturday did their usual enthusiastic and effective job of clipping up the track. The reinforcing for the concrete over and beside the subway was also complete, as seen in the first photo below.

    Over the course of Monday, we laid the track over the subway and clipped the chairs to the track, as seen in the final photo below. It is necessary to do this before the concrete is laid for 2 reasons. Firstly, it allows us to pour the concrete to the correct level (note that the track is deliberately one inch higher than necessary, this will be adjusted when the concrete is fully set). Secondly, the studs for the chairs must be clear of any reinforcing rods (which requires some angle grinding) and the studs need to be bolted to the reinforcing. By close of play on Monday, about 50% of the work to locate the studs was complete. This should be finished and the concrete poured on Tuesday. We should also complete the track laying by Tuesday; as of the end of play on Monday about a third of the remaining sleepers had already been laid.


H-class leaving Sheffield Park with the Rambler - Brian Lacey - 4 March 2017 The reinforcing in place at the start of the day - Bruce Healey - 6 March 2017 Track and chairs in place - Bruce Healey - 6 March 2017
SR Q-class enters Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 4 March 2017 6 March:
  • This weekend saw the SR Q-class back in service on the Bluebell, seen here as it enters Horsted Keynes in Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday.

  • News Update Update on Schools-class 'Stowe': boiler work and arrival of the remaining sections of ashpan.

  • News Update Update from The 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society on Sunday's winter maintenance work on their locomotive at Sheffield Park.

  • Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for March.

  • Bright Bricks-Build It! Tickets are now on sale for this special weekend, 27-28 May.
    Steam trains and Lego; who could ask for anything more? Enjoy a day at the Bluebell Railway and join in the fun building a mosaic, playing with the Lego or 'Make and Take' a model engine. Fun for all ages.

  • News Update Project 27 Blog update showing cleaning up the wheels and overhauling the cylinder drain cocks.

  • Video compilation from John Harwood of Q-class No.541 on the service train on Saturday.

  • Martin Lawrence has completed his February gallery and started on that for March.

  • Jon Goff's photo below shows the reinforcing in place for the concrete raft over the subway in 3-road at Horsted Keynes. Brian Lacey's photo shows the track now laid (but awaiting final ballasting and tamping) in the northern part of that platform road.

Reinforcing in place - Jon Goff - 3 March 2017 Track laid in platform 3 - Brian Lacey - 4 March 2017
3 March:
  • We are running public steam trains each weekend in March, to this Timetable. Tickets can be purchased on arrival, but if you do book at least 8 days in advance, you can take advantage of our Bluebell Bonus discount.

    Track laid in platform 3 - Barbara Watkins - 2 March 2017

  • Flying Scotsman - Flying South: 13-19 April The bus times between Haywards Heath and Sheffield Park have now been confirmed by Compass Travel during the visit of Flying Scotsman, 13-19 April.
    Our train timetable for each day is also available.

  • News Update Barbara Watkins supplies photos updating us on progress with the work in platform 3 at Horsted Keynes, as of yesterday.

    As seen on the right, track laying has started in platform 3 road. This track is being laid 4 inches lower than previously, and that in platform 2 will be 8 inches lower than at present. This will bring both roads down to the same level, and significantly reduce the step down from the carriages to the platforms, which may see us making greater use of platform 2.

    The first photo below shows the top of the subway with the waterproof membrane in place.
    Next we see the reinforcing being constructed for one of the side beams next to the subway.
    Barbara's final photo shows the shuttering adjacent to the water-crane supply pipe, as it rises over the subway.

  • Jordan Shingler provides this short Facebook video of our P-class No.323 on its visit to the Churnet Valley Railway for their Winter Gala last weekend.

Waterproofing in place over subway - Barbara Watkins - 2 March 2017 Building reinforcing for beam adjacent to subway - Barbara Watkins - 2 March 2017 Water supply pipe over subway - Barbara Watkins - 2 March 2017

Small laser-guided bulldozer in action - Bruce Healey - 1 March 2017 2 March:
  • News Update Bruce Healey provides a further report and photos as of yesterday on relaying the track in platform 3 at Horsted Keynes.

    The ballast for Platform 3 has been levelled and compacted. The very south end of the platform and over the subway are still to be ballasted. This photo shows the small laser 'dozer levelling the ballast. The 'dozer we usually use was too large for the platform area.

    The solution for laying the lowered tacks over the subway is to have 3 steel plates over the apex of the subway to spread the load. These have been concreted in place, as seen in the photos below. The next tasks will be to put down plastic over the whole area to waterproof it, cast 2 reinforced concrete beams at either side and make a reinforced concrete raft over the subway. The track chairs will be bolted directly into the concrete. Platform 2 road will be identically treated.

    Two of the three catch pits have been removed as they were not required. The drain for the south end of platform 3 road was connected to the drain put in when 22 point was changed in 2015. There is provision for platform 2 road drain to be similarly connected.

  • John Harwood provides two videos - Half-term with the S15 and from this week, the new OP4 shed, and shunting at Horsted Keynes.

  • During February 2017 there were 50,672 total hits on this page, from 29,733 unique visitors.

  • The photos below, from Bruce Healey, show the feed pipe for the water columns at the north end of platform 2 and 3/4 rising over the subway at Horsted Keynes, and the steel plates being concreted in place over the crown of the subway. Note that the eyes on the steel plates are temporary and will be taken off with an angle grinder.

Water pipe rises over subway - Bruce Healey - 1 March 2017 Concreting the top of the subway - Bruce Healey - 1 March 2017
  • The final photo below shows the finishing touches being applied. The compactor can be seen in the background. The shuttering round the area shows the extent of the side concrete beams and the raft over the top of the subway. All of this will be on top of a waterproof layer.
Concreting the top of the subway - Bruce Healey - 1 March 2017
Token exchange on arrival at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 25 February 2017 28 February:


27 February:
  • Tickets to travel on general service trains behind our own locomotives during the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' (13-19 April) are on sale from 11am on Monday 27 February via TicketSource.
    These tickets cover an entire day on the railway, allowing travel on any of the eight trains running behind two of our own larger locomotives, but do not guarantee seats on a specific timed train. Parking at Horsted Keynes is advised for these trains, or join us via a special bus link from Haywards Heath to Sheffield Park, or by train via East Grinstead.
    H-class with Golden Arrow Luncheon Train approaching Horsted Keynes - Steve Lee - 26 February 2017 Terms and conditions for these tickets are available here.
    The timetable for the trains is available to download here.
    These tickets are shown as '9am' since they are valid all day, from 9am.
    They are priced at £25 for adults and £12.50 for children, with no concessions or discounts available.

  • Steve Lee's photo on the right shows the SECR H-class with yesterday's Pullman Luncheon Train approaching Horsted Keynes. Tickets for this train, which offer fine dining in beautifully restored 1920s Pullman Cars, tend to book up well in advance! Details of the dates of operation available here. Because of the current engineering work at Horsted Keynes, the lunchtime dining trains are currently doing two complete round trips of the line, rather than the normal one and a half.

  • Two photos below from Brian Lacey:
    • The S15 is framed by the two new platform starters at Sheffield Park. The existing LBSCR-pattern signals were rotten at their bases, and as part of their renewal, have been moved about 30 yards north, allowing for the planned platform extensions to permit regular 7-coach operation (all our other stations already have 7-coach length platforms).
    • The second photo shows the S15 entering platforms 4/5 at Horsted Keynes with the service train on 14 February. This is currently the only platform open for traffic at the station.

S15 framed by the two new platform starters at Sheffield Park - Brian Lacey - 14 February 2017 S15 enters platforms 4/5 at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 14 February 2017
S15 on service train exiting Sharpthorne tunnel - Brian Lacey - 24 February 2017 25 February:
  • Brian Lacey's photo shows the S15 on service train at West Hoathly yesterday. Our trains run this weekend, with the Kids for a Quid Special Offer, to this Timetable.

  • Join us on Saturday 18 March for a Curry Evening, one of our popular evening supper trains. Departing from Sheffield Park Station at 6.30pm for the return journey to East Grinstead, enjoy a main course and a dessert on board one of our historic steam-hauled trains. Booking is essential on 01825 720800 due to limited seating capacity. A selection of drinks are available for purchase on the day.

  • Some members report not receiving their AGM 2017 Notice; it's now also available for download on the BRPS Notices page.

  • Early morning full line brake van rides during the Diesel Gala - 31 March to 2 April, behind our class 09, will depart Sheffield Park at 8.10am and include a trip down the Ardingly Siding on the return leg. Tickets include a drink and breakfast roll. Ring 01825 720800 to book your space.
    "Driver for a fiver" will be available on our Sentinel Shunter at Horsted Keynes station (on the Saturday and Sunday only).
    Trade stand enquiries are welcome. There will be a pitch fee. Please contact our Sales Office on 01825 720800 for more information.
    The Diesel Gala timetable is now available to download.

  • Then and Now around Sheffield Park Station, with photos from Mike Anton and Ian Nolan.

  • Martin Lawrence's February gallery features a couple of shots of the "Find Out More" day on their tour through the C&W department, including that below which shows the group being shown the Arts Council England funded restoration of the SR-designed Elephant Van, which is being fitted out internally as a children's play area.

  • Brian Lacey's photo shows the recently replaced arm (the one with the horizontal stripe) on the calling on signal which permits exit from Platform 2 at Horsted Keynes onto the Ardingly spur.

Find out More Day in the paint shop at C&W - Martin Lawrence - 12 February 2017 Pl 1/2 down starting bracket signals at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 14 February 2017
S15 and track-work at Horsted Keynes - Stewart Moon - 18 February 2017 24 February:
  • News Update After a week's break, engineering work has restarted, focused now on relaying the track in platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes. Our thanks to Bruce Healey, Stewart Moon and Matt Crawford for the update below.

    Stewart Moon's photo taken last Saturday shows track lifted in No.3 road as the S15 departs in stormy conditions from platform 4/5.

    By Wednesday evening, the track base for Horsted Platform 3 had been lowered by the required 4 inches with only a small amount of spoil yet to be removed. As the feed pipe for the water columns at the north end of the station and the original drain occupied the space between Nos.2 and 3 roads, a new centre drain was not an option. Instead, a smaller drain will run under the track of both platforms 2 and 3.

    Much of the feed pipe for the water columns has been uncovered and so far looks in good condition. The feed is far from level as it wends its way over the underpass and round 3 catch pits.

    The drain under 3 road has been started with the very northern end having the terram/polythene/terram sandwich laid, the drain pipe in and (so far unlevelled) ballast down.

    The opportunity has been taken to renew the wooden walkways on the platform 1/2 up starting signal, with Matt "Tarzan" Crawford doing the difficult bits. The walkways on the up signal on platform3/4 will be similarly renewed in the next few weeks.

  • The photos below, from Bruce Healey, show some of the sleepers recovered from the Holywell track renewal, and Matt Crawford renewing timbers on the bracket signal.

Recovered sleepers from Holywell - Bruce Healey - 22 February 2017 Matt Crawford working on the platform 1/2 up starter - Bruce Healey - 22 February 2017
  • The next photo below, from Stewart Moon, shows the chalk infill covering the drain. Further along it also covers the water column feed pipes. The feed crosses 3 road at right angles which can just be seen in this photo.

  • Whilst most of the digging has been done by mechanical means, that along the platform edge, around catch pits and the water-crane pipe has been done by hand, as seen in Bruce Healey's next photo. His final photo shows the platform 3 drain going under the feed pipe for the platform 3/4 water column.
3-road dug out - Stewart Moon - 22 February 2017 Hand digging around catch pit and water-crane pipe - Bruce Healey - 22 February 2017 The platform 3 drain going under the feed to the platform 3/4 water column - Bruce Healey - 22 February 2017
S15 on service train on the newly relaid track - Steve Lee - 18 February 2017 20 February:
  • Steve Lee's photo shows the S15 with the service train on Saturday, traversing the newly relaid track near Holywell. Our trains are running every day this week, with the Kids for a Quid Special Offer, to this Timetable.

  • Virtually every single one of the 8000 tickets for the trains to be hauled by 'Flying Scotsman' are now sold out.
    Tickets to travel on our other steam-hauled trains behind our own locomotives over the week of Flying Scotsman's visit, go on sale on 27 February. Tickets already purchased to ride behind 'Flying Scotsman' have travel on these further trains included (subject to space being available).

  • BRPS Members' concessions, as described in the letter posted earlier this month, are available for the trains operated by our own locomotives only, during the period of the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' (13-19 April), and only on sale until Friday, 24 February. Please note you will need to show the ticket and your membership card when arriving at the Railway to travel.

  • Calling all holders of Bluebell PTS certificates to support our volunteer lineside stewards by signing up as a PTS 'Gala-maker' in helping keep our lineside safe during the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' (see pdf download). At the same time, we'd like to remind everyone that it is a mandatory requirement to hold a current Bluebell Railway PTS photographic pass or workers' PTS pass, which confirms that the holder has received Bluebell-specific lineside safety training, to access the lineside area within our boundary fence. Anyone without such certification will be removed from the Bluebell lineside by our stewards. Similarly, we should remind visitors wishing to view 'Flying Scotsman' that the fields alongside the railway are private property, and we ask visitors to remain on public footpaths and to respect the private nature of our neighbours' land.

  • Martin Lawrence has completed his January album and started on that for February

  • Mike Anton provides a look at "Ardingly Station, then and now", comparing 1962 photos from Ian Nolan with the equivalent modern view.

  • News Update Photos from the overhaul of Stowe showing the new boiler backhead, preparations for lifting the frames, and components for fabricating the new ashpan. x

  • Brian Lacey's photo below show the H-class arriving at Horsted Keynes with the afternoon tea train on Tuesday last week (note the stockpile of ballast which was used on the trackwork at Holywell, and which will also be used in the current work to re-lay platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes).

H-class entering Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 14 February 2017
14 February:
  • Fancy a great day out for the family over Half Term?
    We are currently running our Kids for a Quid Special Offer. Steam Trains operatate every day for two weeks, until Sunday 26 February, to this timetable. No need to book in advance (but adult tickets qualify for our Bluebell Bonus discount if you are able to book at least 8 days in advance).

  • During the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' (13 to 19 April) we are pleased to confirm that bus links will be in place between Haywards Heath and Sheffield Park, the details for which are currently being finalised.
    Tickets are still available for most of the trains which the iconic locomotive will be hauling, but several are now very nearly sold out.

  • BritishRailways.tv's video of the Bluebell in 2016 provides 10 minutes of the best of Bluebell from last year!

  • An additional attraction at the Spring Diesel Gala, 31 March to 2 April, will be early morning full line brake van rides behind our class 09. These will depart Sheffield Park at 8.10am including a trip down the Ardingly Siding on the return leg. Tickets for this ride are limited and must be pre-booked. Ticket cost TBA, with a drink and breakfast roll included.

  • The Bluebell Railway is seeking expressions of interest for the provision of additional catering concessions during the visit of Flying Scotsman. Concessions will be awarded by competitive tender. Catering outlets will be required to operate daily between 13th and 19th April 2017, opening hours will be detailed in the tender document. During the visit the Bluebell Railway anticipates welcoming up to 6,000 visitors per day. To express your interest or for further details and receive a tender document please send an e-mail to Neil Glaskin, Retail Director. Tenders will need to be submitted by 1st March 2017.


13 February - 7pm: Stop Press
'Flying Scotsman' Flying South - 13 to 19 April 2017 - 50% of Tickets sold

'Flying Scotsman'

  • Our sincere apologies for the problems with the online booking system this morning, and the consequent complete clogging of our phone system. In spite of the problems, 50% of the tickets have now been sold, but we are very sorry for the frustration caused to so many of our intending passengers.

    We are very pleased to say that the online system has now recovered, and to purchase some of the 50% remaining tickets to travel on Bluebell Railway trains behind 'Flying Scotsman' you can book online through TicketSource.

  • People have been asking about the ticket numbering system. The first letter is the coach. The number is the seat number, but for each number there are two seats, B and F (for "Back to" and "Facing" the engine). Thus D12F and D12B are a pair of seats facing each other in coach D. This is how seats were numbered on the railways going back 100 years, and since our carriages are restored pretty much to their original condition, this includes the original seat reservation numbers!

  • Another frequent query is over the coach layout. Where the seats are shown as complete rows across the coach they are arranged in 6- or 8- seat compartments, such as this (photo by Derek Hayward). Where there is a gangway down the centre, the seats are in an open layout, with bays of four seats either side of a central gangway, like this.

  • Further details below.


13 February:
'Flying Scotsman' Flying South - 13 to 19 April 2017 - Tickets on sale today

60103 'Flying Scotsman' at York - Michael J Alderdice - 25 February 2016

  • Tickets to travel on Bluebell Railway trains behind 'Flying Scotsman' are on sale from 11am today online through TicketSource. These tickets will reserve specific seats for a specific departure (10am, 12.45 or 3.30pm) on a specific day and entitle people to travel for one round trip (Sheffield Park to East Grinstead and return, taking about an hour and three quarters), and will also cover travel on trains hauled by other locomotives during the day (which will provided connecting services to and from our other stations), subject to space being available.

    • Adult Tickets £35.00 per person.
    • Child (3-15yrs) Tickets £17.50 each.
    • Under 3s travel free, but do not get a reserved seat.
    • No other discounts or concessions.
    • Tickets will be issued as e-tickets, which will be scanned on arrival at the Bluebell Railway, and exchanged for physical souvenir tickets (which act as a permit to travel on the booked train).
    • Ticket terms and conditions (pdf).

  • Further details are available on our web page. Any queries, please ask on our Facebook page for the event if possible, since phone lines may be very busy.

  • Tickets at lower cost for services hauled by our own steam engines during the visit will be available from 27 February; but these will not cover travel behind 'Flying Scotsman', and will not guarantee seats on a specific timed train. BRPS Members should refer to the letter posted to them earlier this month for details of availability of Members' tickets for these trains.

  • Admission only tickets (Platform tickets) will also be on sale later. These will be individual tickets for specific stations, issued subject to space being available at the stations. Unfortunately these will not be available for East Grinstead Station due to the restricted space on that platform.

  • You can hire our 1897-built GNR Directors' Saloon for private or corporate parties on 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled services.

    Photo: 60103 'Flying Scotsman' at York - 25 February 2016, with grateful thanks to Michael J Alderdice.



11 February: The news you have all been waiting for - 'Flying Scotsman' tickets on sale Monday at 11am

Flying Scotsman at the NRM - Phil Brown - April 2016

  • Tickets (with seat reservation for a specific time on a specific day) to travel behind 'Flying Scotsman' will be on sale online on Monday 13th February at 11am. These tickets will also allow travel on trains hauled by other locomotives during the day (subject to space being available on those trains).
         Scotsman runs each day 13-19 April.
         Adult Ticket £35.00 per person.
         Child (3-15yrs) Ticket £17.50
         No other discounts or concessions.
         Ticket terms and conditions (pdf).

    Tickets (at lower cost) for services hauled by our own steam engines during the visit will be on sale from 27th February but these will not guarantee seats on a specific timed train, nor will they be valid for the trains hauled by Flying Scotsman.

    To get information on the release of, and how to purchase, each ticket type (Flying Scotsman, other trains hauled by our own engines, and platform tickets): subscribe here for our email updates, or check back with this Blog, on the Flying Scotsman page on our web site, or on Facebook.

  • News Update Update to the Infrastructure News page with thanks to Bruce Healey, collating reports from November's relaying of the Horsted Keynes No.5 Point at Leamland Junction.

  • Many thanks to Phil Brown for supplying this photo, showing 'Flying Scotsman' at the NRM in April last year.


New formation at Holywell, looking north - Bruce Healey - 8 February 2017 10 February:
  • Kids for a Quid Special Offer for Half Term. Steam Trains operatate every day from this Saturday for 2 weeks, to this Timetable.

  • Join us on Saturday 18 February for one of our popular evening supper trains. Departing from Sheffield Park Station at 6.30pm for the return journey to East Grinstead, enjoy Sausage and Mash and a dessert on board one of our historic steam hauled trains. Booking is essential on 01825 720800 due to limited seating capacity. A selection of drinks are available for purchase on the day.

  • News Update Winter maintenance on No.73082 'Camelot' has been largely focused on the tender, plus a little work in the firebox. Having run 12,994 miles since returning to traffic in late 2015, the tender wheelsets have been sent to the South Devon Railway for re-tyring, and these photos show associated work on the tender.

  • We are part-way through a transition from JustGiving and PayPal Giving Fund to using BT MyDonate, because of the latter's much lower deductions from donations received. We are pleased to announce that a new MyDonate page has been created for on-line donations to the ASH appeal (Accessible Steam Heritage) for which we've been awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The appeal is still open, since we need to raise a bit more for our own match funding for what is now a slightly larger project than when first proposed.

  • Dave Bowles' photos of our Q-class with a train of box vans, with a train of mineral wagons and posed in platform 1 at Loughborough on photo charters at the Great Central last week.

  • News Update A final update on the six weeks of track-work undertaken during the engineering occupation which has just ended, with thanks to Bruce Healey and Matt Crawford.

    By the beginning of this week, the new track at Holywell had been aligned, ballasted and tamped. The track now has the correct cant for 25mph operation. This week we have been removing the replaced track panels and completing clearance of the site. The photos above and below show the restored track, looking in either direction.

    The work on Platform 3 at Horsted Keynes continues. The top of the subway has been exposed for inspection, as seen in the second photo below; drainage in this area is a particular concern. Track through Platform 2 will not be lifted just yet.

    One of the Infrastructure tasks which is particularly time-consuming is providing underground conduits for cables currently on the surface or in concrete trunking. The work at the south end of the platforms has given us the opportunity to bury some cables by the foot crossing. This unearthed the feed pipe from the water tower to the water column on platform 2. The third photo below shows the south end of Platform 2. Under the S&T cables, the feed pipe to the Platform 2 water column can be seen running diagonally towards the near right corner of the manhole. This was only visible for a few hours and with the conduits now in place, has been ballasted over.

    Although the work remains ahead of schedule, the formation between the platforms might need somewhat more work than anticipated.

  • Stewart Moon provides the final photo below, showing the Platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes, as of last Sunday.

  • Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for February.

New formation at Holywell, looking south - Bruce Healey - 8 February 2017 The top of the subway at Platform 3 is exposed - Bruce Healey - 8 February 2017
Cables and water-crane pipe, Platform 2 at Horsted Keynes - Bruce Healey - 8 February 2017 Sleepers cleared from Platform 3 at Horsted Keynes - Stewart Moon - 4 February 2017
84030 - driver's brake valve and drawings 3 February:


Lifting sleepers out of Platform 3 at Horsted Keynes - Bruce Healey - 1 February 2017 2 February:
  • News Update A further update on current track-relaying, with thanks to Matt Crawford and Bruce Healey.

    As of yesterday evening, the new track was being tamped at Holywell. There have been 10 ballast drops already and another 2 will be required.

    If the relaying of a third of a mile of track does not sound a lot, the following items were used:

    • 29 track panels each 60 feet in length
    • 795 concrete sleepers
    • 17 wooden sleepers
    • 1590 insulating pads
    • 3180 'biscuits' (which go between a pandrol clip and a concrete sleeper)
    • 3200 pandrols clips
    • 240 holes drilled for fishplate bolts
    • 62 fishplates sets
    • 248 bolts
    • 28 bullhead keys

    As the Holywell work is well ahead of schedule, the opportunity has been taken to start lifting track and sleepers in Horsted Keynes Platform 3, as seen in Bruce's two photos here, taken in less than ideal weather for photography.

  • Services are due to resume on Saturday 11 February: steam-hauled services will run, with our Kids for a Quid Special Offer for Half Term, every day until February 26 to this Modified Timetable.

  • News Update Update on the SETG website: a working day at Strawberry Hill depot, restoring our VEP unit to working order.

  • Lee Andrew Davies provides the photo below, showing our Maunsell Q-class in action at the GCR Winter Gala over the weekend. You can see more in his video and photo gallery.
    In addition, Mat Yardley has some great photos.

Sleepers cleared from Platform 3 at Horsted Keynes - Bruce Healey - 1 February 2017 30541 in action at the GCR - Lee Andrew Davies - 29 January 2017
D6700 - Dr Phil Brown 1 February:
  • 2017 Spring Diesel Gala - 31 March to 2 April
    We are now able to announce a further locomotive for the line up at this event. Joining the two Class 50s already confirmed, 'Ark Royal' and 'Defiance', will be the BR Type 3 class-pioneer, D6700 (later numbered 37119 and 37350). Now part of the National Railway Museum's collection this locomotive will arrive at the Bluebell via our connection with Network Rail at East Grinstead.
    Built in 1960 by the English Electric Company at their Vulcan Foundry this was the first of the 309 Class 37s produced. Currently carrying BR Green livery it is anticipated that D6700's duties will include the hauling of the Beer EX evening special planned for Saturday April 1st. There is more information about D6700 available in this article by Catherine Farrel of the National Railway Museum.
    Timetabling for the event is still at the planning stages - keep an eye on the web page and facebook page for more information.
    The photo of D6700 is courtesy of Doc Brown's Travel Pictures.

  • Further details of most of our 2017 Special Events now available.

  • News Update Engineering update from the Project 27 team. It looks likely that the most economic long-term option will be to make completely new frames for this 1910-built SECR locomotive. If you'd like to contribute towards the project, all donations are much appreciated.

  • For his Fifth Anniversary edition of Steam Locos in Profile, Chris Eden-Green has chosen the BR Std 5MTs, and naturally enough 'Camelot' features prominently.

  • Hornby provide further details of their forthcoming models of the SECR H-class. These can be pre-ordered through our Shop - BRPS members receive a discount.

  • Kevin McElhone's photos below show our Q-class No.30541 and 777 at the Winter Gala on the Great Central Railway on 28 January. The following provide photos and videos from the same event.

  • Shareholders' Weekend moved to October
    As announced at the Bluebell Railway PLC AGM last year, our intention was again to hold a Shareholders' Weekend in 2017, and the dates had been set for April 22/23. April not only sees a Diesel Gala and the Easter break, but we also now have the 7-day visit of 'Flying Scotsman'. So we have decided it best to move the Shareholders' Weekend to later in the year, and it will now be held on October 14/15. This will then give an opportunity to provide, amongst other things, updates on progress with ASH, OP4 and Car 54, as well as a summary of the Railway's summer season. Full details of the October event will be sent to all shareholders in late summer.

  • During January 2017 there were 50,267 total hits on this page, from 30,958 unique visitors.

30541 with 777 at the Winter Gala on GCR - Kevin McElhone - 28 January 2017 30541 with 777 at the Winter Gala on GCR - Kevin McElhone - 28 January 2017
Preparing for embankment stabilisation - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017 25 January:
News Update Matt Crawford and Bruce Healey again provide an update with some more photos of the Holywell track work.

At close of play on Tuesday evening the new rail was almost all in. Of the 29 track panels, 28 were in and the last one, the transition panel was half in. The transition panel consists of a half panel of flat bottomed rail laid on 11 concrete sleepers and 3 wooden ones which connects to a half panel of bullhead all laid on wooden sleepers.

This last northern part of the relaying has always suffered from the embankment bellying out on the west side. The side of the embankment has been excavated and successive layers of plastic mesh and compacted soil put down to stabilise the formation.

While it might look like the work is almost complete, there is still a lot more to do. The track needs slewing to its final position, about a third needs clipping up. The whole section will then be ballasted and tamped. Then there is the breaking down and removal of the old track panels, clearing the site and finally scraping out the existing ditch on the east side. We are well ahead of schedule and confident of an early completion.

We would like to thank the Saturday and Sunday gangs for their help and in particular the 9F club who energetically and competently assist in clipping up the track.

The photos show:

  • Above right: The mesh for the embankment stabilisation is being cut while the digger is collecting soil to ready for compacting.
  • Below: New unballasted track with the orange insulators and pandrol clips which locate the track on the sleepers laid out ready.
  • Sleepers being moved into position. Some of the replaced bullhead track can be seen in the background. The yellow marks indicate the correct positions for the sleeper ends.
  • The end of the flat bottomed part of the transition panel is in the foreground and sleepers are being laid for the bullhead part. The track in the background under the digger is not being replaced.

Services are due to resume on Saturday 11 February, with steam-hauled services running daily from then until 26 February, during which time we are offering our Kids for a Quid Special Offer.


New track laid - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017 Sleepers being moved - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017 Transition panel - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017
East Grinstead Concert Band - Charity Fundraising Concert - 25 February 24 January:


19 January:
  • 'Flying Scotsman' will be with us 13 to 19 April 2017 - Will You?

    60103 'Flying Scotsman' at York - Michael J Alderdice - 25 February 2016

  • Tickets to travel on general service trains behind 'Flying Scotsman' will be on sale in early February. These tickets will be for a specific time on a specific day and entitle people to travel for one round trip (Sheffield Park to East Grinstead and return), will also cover travel on trains hauled by other locomotives during the day, subject to space being available.

  • Tickets for services hauled by our own steam engines during the visit will be available but these will not guarantee seats on a specific timed train.

  • Admission only tickets (Platform tickets) will also be on sale. These will be individual tickets for specific stations, issued subject to space being available at the stations. Unfortunately these will not be available for East Grinstead Station due to the restricted space on that platform.

  • Details of ticket pricing and on-sale dates will be advised via email (join the mailing list here), or keep an eye on our web page or on our Facebook page. Please bear with us, since our phone lines are extremely busy!

  • At 10am tomorrow morning tickets go on sale for a second 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled Breakfast Train, to run on Thursday 13 April. The other four dining trains hauled by 'Flying Scotsman' have already sold out, so you are advised to book early!
    Update: 11am on Friday 20th: The Breakfast Train on 13th April, for which tickets went on sale this morning, sold out in 35 minutes... sorry to those who failed to get through.

  • To help man the phones, please see this advert for volunteers to help staff our sales and information office.

  • You can hire our 1897-built GNR Directors' Saloon for private or corporate parties on 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled services.

    Photo: 60103 'Flying Scotsman' at York - 25 February 2016, with grateful thanks to Michael J Alderdice.



80151 arrives at HK - Martin Lawrence - 17 July 2010 18 January:
  • Standard Class 4 tank locomotive No.80151, currently under overhaul at Sheffield Park, is 60 years old today. Built at Brighton Works, it was released into traffic on 18th. January 1957. Initially allocated to Brighton shed, in January 1964 No.80151 was transferred to Redhill and, subsequently, Salisbury and Eastleigh, from where it was withdrawn in May 1967. The photo from Martin Lawrence shows it arriving at Horsted Keynes on 17 July 2010.

  • An atmospheric set of photos from Peter Wilson, taken in the rain on Sunday. He reports that the lamb stew and dumplings served in the Bessemer Arms, followed by the chocolate mousse, was amazing and very welcome on a wet and cold day.

  • Updates to some of the dates in the Special Events list (the April week of the planned Bluebell Specials dropped - the May dates remain, and the Seaside Weekend added in August) as well as the addition of the 6-8 October Deltic Gala for the 40th Anniversary of the DPS which was announced on Sunday.

  • With 4 sold-out Pullman Dining trains under our belt, we are now advertising the availability of the GN Directors' Saloon for private or corporate hire on 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled services. Details of public services will be publicised here when released.

  • News Update Matt Crawford and Bruce Healey provide this update and photos of the work at Holywell. The work is being done in 3 phases with Phases 1 and 3 being a straight replacement of track on embankment. Phase 1 is complete except for ballasting and tamping. Phase 2 is mostly in a cutting and requires drainage to be put in on the west side. The photos below show the work on the drainage ditch. A polythene sheet sandwiched between terram (fibreglass matting) goes under a perforated pipe. Used ballast covers this ensemble. A similar sandwich will go under the track and be lapped into the sandwich shown ensuring that any water falling on the formation is properly diverted. The work is presently on schedule and Matt expects the work to be completed in good time.

Phase 2 of re-laying - Bruce Healey - 16 January 2017 Phase 2 of re-laying - Bruce Healey - 16 January 2017
15 January:
  • Tickets are now on sale for a fourth 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled Gala Pullman Dining Train, on 18 April, the other three already having sold out!

  • We are very pleased to announce that, as part of The Deltic Preservation Society's 40th Anniversary celebrations, we have been selected by them to host an all-Deltic gala on Friday-Sunday 6,7 & 8 October.

    Deltics on shed at Sheffield Park - Tony Sullivan - 16 April 2015 The event will feature 4 working Deltics, D9002, D9009, 55019 and 55022 and possibly a surprise visitor. The event is at the early planning stages at the moment but some of the ideas include at least one dining train on the Bluebell and if possible another on the Network organised by AVOCET Travel Management, as well as an evening event on the Friday.

    We hosted two Deltics in April 2015, at what proved to be a hugely popular event. Tony Sullivan's photo on the right shows the Deltics on shed at Sheffield Park on 16 April 2015. Jordi Blumberg's photo below shows 55019 "Royal Highland Fusilier" at Horsted Keynes on the Saturday, and D9009 "Alycidon" is seen on the Friday at Leamland Bridge in Andrew Crampton's photo.

    Further details available to download in this press release from the DPS.

  • See below for details of the Spring Diesel Gala, running from 31 March to 2 April.
55019 leaves Horsted Keynes - Jordi Blumberg - 18 April 2015 D9009 at Leamland Bridge - Andrew Crampton - 17 April 2015

50049 'Defiance' on its return to service, 16 April 2016 14 January:
  • First Class 50s to visit the Bluebell
    The Bluebell Railway's Spring Diesel Gala, taking place from Friday 31 March to Sunday 2 April, is beginning to take shape. Whilst timetables and details of other visiting motive power are still being firmed up, we can announce that the event will include two Class 50 locomotives, 50035 'Ark Royal' and 50049 'Defiance'.

    The two Class 50s (there were 50 such locomotives built by English Electric in 1967/8 as 'Type 4' diesels) are owned by the Class 50 Alliance Ltd and normally resident at the Severn Valley Railway. The '50' theme continues with 2017 representing 50 years since the first of this class was built.

    The Class 50s did not originally carry names, but in the late 1970s BR agreed to their being named after Royal Navy vessels with notable records in the First and Second World Wars. 50035 'Ark Royal' was the first of its class to be preserved, and 50049 'Defiance' was the last passenger diesel powered locomotive built for British Rail. They were withdrawn from service in 1990 and 1991 respectively. No Class 50 has previously visited the Bluebell.

    The photo above shows 50049 'Defiance' on 16 April 2016, on the occasion of its return to service. The photo is supplied via SVR Wiki.

    Since acquisition in 1991, 50035 has been a regular performer on the SVR. In recent years it has been running in a fictitious Load Haul livery (see photo below), but in 2015 it was repainted into BR blue livery, as seen in the second photo below, showing the two together.

    The full text of the press release is available to download here.

  • Bluebell Railway PLC invites applications for the posts of Operations Director and Infrastructure Director.

  • The Churnet Valley Railway are hosting a visit by P-class No.323 'Bluebell' for their Winter Steam Gala on 25-26 February.
50135 Ark Royal at Kidderminster - Tony Hisgett 50035 and 50049 - Tony Middleton

The first photo shows 50135 'Ark Royal' at Kidderminster by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK - 50135 Ark Royal 2. Licenced under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. In 2015 this locomotive was repainted as shown in the second photo (courtesy Tony Middleton).

Relaid track near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017 11 January:
  • News Update Matt Crawford wishes to keep everyone updated with the major track relaying project at Holywell, so Mike Hopps provides the four photos here. The Infrastructure gang has been out in force and at close of play yesterday (Tuesday 10 January), 10 new panels had been laid, as seen on the right. The job is going well so far and is on target time-wise. The photos below show the old track being lifted out, new sleepers laid on the re-graded trackbed, and rails being installed.

  • Monday 2 January saw the last service trains until 11 February. Dave Bowles has uploaded a few shots on his flickr site, starting with this photo.
    On Tuesday 3rd, a photo charter was run by Jon Bowers, with No.30541 hauling a goods train. A perfect morning for photography with a heavy frost and a bright sunrise, and at the end of the day a fine evening for some atmospheric shots in the platforms at Kingscote. Dave provides a great selection of photos from the day.

  • Mike Anton's video from Tuesday's goods train charter with Maunsell Q-class No.30541.

  • News Update Brief update for the New Year on the Project 27 BlogSpot.

  • Volunteer recruitment - Find Out More days take place on the 2nd Sunday of each month from February to November. They provide the opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at the Bluebell, with no commitment unless/until you are ready to start volunteering.

  • Update with the positions in the Football Competition as of 9 January. This is a fund-raiser for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.

  • Martin Lawrence has been filling some gaps in his photo galleries, with photos added recently for January 2009 and February 2009.

  • Update to the details for the 2017 Murder Mystery evenings on the Golden Arrow due to a change of date in July, with that planned for 14th now changed to 7 July.
Old track being lifted out near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017 Sleepers laid near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017 New rails being fitted near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017

847 climbing Freshfield bank - Peter Edwards - 2 January 2017 5 January:
  • Peter Edwards' photo shows S15 No.847 climbing Freshfield bank with the 11am service from Sheffield Park on Monday 2 January.

  • Work started yesterday to replace 1/3 mile of track on our line. We thus have no trains running at present, until services resume on 11 February.
    The Grinsteade Buffet Carriage at our East Grinstead station, and our Restaurant, Shop and Locomotive Sheds at Sheffield Park station are open daily, even on days when no trains are running.

  • Great photo on Facebook from Jonathan Hughes of the last service of the Christmas/New Year period, on Monday.

  • Video by John Harwood of the train at Kingscote and on the viaduct on Monday. The drone shots comply with our policy.

  • This is a fun short video of a family enjoying their trip on one of our Santa Specials.

  • News Update Photos and news from Fred Bailey on the Brighton Atlantic project, as also seen in the photo below; the cab roof is now completed, and otherwise work concentrates on the boiler, with the welding in of the new sections around the mud-holes, and the delivery of the superheater flue tubes. In addition David Jones has just provided an updated component sponsorship list, since we're pleased to say that quite a few items have found sponsors in the last few weeks.

  • Hornby have just announced that they are doing one of the Bluebell's first two coaches: ex-LSWR full third No.320, in Southern Malachite with Sunshine lettering.
    Worth a reminder that Hornby and other models can be pre-ordered through the Bluebell's Shop, with BRPS members receiving a discount.
Top of cab roof - Fred Bailey - 22 December 2016 847 at East Grinstead - Geoff Course - 1 January 2017

847 brings the first train of the New Year into East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 1 January 2017 1 January 2017:
  • Wishing all our supporters, members and passengers a very Happy New Year.

  • Brian Lacey's photo shows the S15 bringing the first train of the New Year into East Grinstead this morning.

  • Two specials on our Golden Arrow dining train are selling fast:

  • Trains are running tomorrow, 2 January to this timetable, but then not until 11 February. During the intervening period we will be re-laying 1/3 of a mile of track between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes.

    Steam trains will run daily from 11 to 26 February, and on weekends in March.

  • Nick Burgess' photos 17th December

  • Mike Anton's video of SECR 323 'Bluebell' at Sheffield Park with the Victorian Christmas Special on 22 December, and one of loco movements and the first train at the start of the day on 23 December.

  • Dave Bowles' photos from 22 December, including SECR P-class No.323 'Bluebell' out with the Victorian train, and more from the Santa Specials.

  • Jon Barnes provides an album from 23 December featuring Camelot, the Q class and the S15 on Santa Specials, with the H class as Sheffield Park station pilot.

  • Keith Duke has posted pictures from the early part of Christmas Eve at Sheffield Park.

  • During December 2016 there were 43,337 total hits on this page, from 26,428 unique visitors.

  • Steve Lee's photos below, also from today, show the S15 setting off from Sheffield Park, and the Q-class with the lunchtime Golden Arrow Pullman train at West Hoathly. The first photo also shows one of the two replacement LBSCR-pattern starting signals at Sheffield Park, awaiting commissioning. Since new timber posts were required, the opportunity has been taken to relocate the signals slightly further North, to enable the eventual lengthening of the platforms.
847 setting off from Sheffield Park - Steve Lee - 1 January 2017 541 with the lunchtime Golden Arrow at West Hoathly - Steve Lee - 1 January 2017
Please do let me (Richard Salmon) know what you think of this new format.

The Current What's New page contains all the recent update information.

Also see the 2016, the 2015, the 2014, the 2013, the 2012, the 2011, the 2010, the 2009, the 2008, the 2007, the 2006, the 2005, the 2004, the 2003, the 2002, the 2001, the 2000, the 1999 and the 1997-8 "What was new" archive pages.

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