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Latest Updates - Earlier updates - Latest Project News - Archive News
- After a week's break, engineering work has restarted, focussed 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.
- 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.
- 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 may be obtained until this coming Friday, 24 February, via the Sales and Information Office at Sheffield Park, in person or on 01825 720800 (please be patient since phone lines are very busy at present). Please note you will need your membership number to purchase tickets, and will need to show the ticket and your membership card when arriving at the Railway to travel. There are a limited number of tickets available, on a first-come first-served basis, and purchases are restricted to one ticket per member. This concession will not be available after 24 February.
- 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.
- Photos from the overhaul of Stowe showing the new boiler backhead, preparations for lifting the frames, and components for fabricating the new ashpan.
- Latest update from Project 27 covering the overhaul of our third SECR P-class locomotive.
- 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).
Latest updates - Earlier updates - Latest Project News - Archive News
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Most recent updates: See top of this page
- 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' Flying South - 13 to 19 April 2017 - Tickets on sale today
11 February: The news you have all been waiting for - 'Flying Scotsman' tickets on sale Monday at 11am
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Winter maintenance on No.73082 'Camelot' has been largely focussed 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
1 January 2017:
Please do let me (Richard Salmon) know what you think of this new format.
Older updates are in the What's New
or 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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