Today sees the official opening of the Bluebell Railway’s Northern Extension extending the line from Kingscote back into East Grinstead. This has been a mammoth undertaking both in terms of fundraising, obtaining the land from more than 30 different land owners who purchased the trackbed from British Railways after closure and the considerable effort involved in the removal the spoil and land fill from a long stretch of cutting that was infilled with refuse after the line closed, all of which has had to be carefully removed under current transfer of waste legislation.
A brand new station has been built at East Grinstead alongside the existing Southern station, and is even officially called platform 3! This also gives the Bluebell Railway a physical connection with Network Rail and will allow through excursion trains to be run on the Bluebell Railway, the first of which takes place on Thursday 28th March.
To mark this special occasion the Bluebell Railway are holding a two week opening festival with many different special events taking place from today until Sunday 7th April. The full diary of events over the next two weeks can be seen on the Bluebell Railway’s website here.
The Bluebell Railway and its team of many volunteers must be congratulated on the tremendous effort involved in this achievement.
I am pleased to be able to announce that the Bluebell Railway’s ambitious Double Donation Dash target of £125,000 was reached just as the DDD125 closed at 6 p.m. on 6 November. When all the matching funding and gift aid on donations has been collected, the DDD125 will have raised around £275,000 for the Bluebell Railway’s Northern Extension Project (NEP).
The Bluebell Railway advises that it now needs to further raise somewhere between £150,000 to £200,000 over the next few months for the completion of the northern extension into East Grinstead. They cannot be more accurate as nearly all the work is outside and Winter weather dependent. This is a substantial achievement considering that the amount needing to be raised just four years ago was £4 million!
Many to thanks to all who have donated, including of course those sponsors who put up the funds for the matching to take place and set the target to be met. We look forward to the first training running into East Grinstead next year.
The target is to raise £125,000 through online donations and donations made by cheque – to release the £125,000 offered as match funding. Any money raised beyond the £125,000 will be used for the Extension project, but will not attract match funding.
Please consider making a donation until the 2nd November to help the Bluebell Railway in its aim to reach East Grinstead. If you are able to, also please state gift aid too, as then as well as doubling the amount of your donation an extra amount is added from the tax man too all for free!
The model railway world and mainly Southern Railway meanderings of Graham 'Muz' Muspratt