Bluebell Railway & East Grinstead Connection

Published on 23rd April 2012

Bluebell Railway aims for regular East Grinstead steam services in spring 2013

EAST GRINSTEAD - The Bluebell Railway’s Sheffield Park to Kingscote line could be connected through to East Grinstead and the national network by the end of this summer.

Removal of sufficient waste material

The Bluebell Railway has removed sufficient waste material from Imberhorne cutting (utilised as a tip following closure of the line through to East Grinstead) to obviate the need for any further ‘Waste by Rail’ trains. It was crucial to achieve this before April 1, when Landfill Tax would have become applicable and added significantly to removal costs.

Large volumes of capping material remain in the cutting, but this is easier and cheaper to remove and will be taken to Horsted Keynes, used to build up land on which a turning triangle can be created.

Ahead of the curve

Designs are now being developed for the final shape of Imberhorne cutting. There are several options, all involving re-engineering the cutting and re-profiling the track bed south of the road bridge. Service and drainage ducts then need to be installed followed by the track, which could be laid by the end of this summer.

Other work to complete the Bluebell’s Northern Extension Project includes changes to the track alignment and signalling at Kingscote plus construction of customer facilities at the heritage line’s East Grinstead station site and a walkway to link this station with NR’s East Grinstead station. Repairs are also needed to an occupation bridge, the underside of a viaduct arch, plus administrative work on safety, staff training, and operational plans.

Everything hinges on raising the cash

The Bluebell Railway has set a target of handing the extension over to its Operations Department on March 18 2013. The ‘but’, of course, is raising the estimated £800,000 cost of the remaining works to achieve this objective. To finance what amounts to an average spend of £80,000 per month over the next 10 months the railway is launching a ‘Funding for the Finish’ campaign.

A ‘Fiver for the Finish’ effort seeking donations from passengers will replace the previous ‘Tenner for the Tip’ initiative. The latter, launched in January 2009, raised over £230,000 from people travelling on Bluebell trains.

Bluebell Railway member, Lorna Webb, will be running the London Marathon on April 22 to raise money for the Northern Extension Project. Donations can be made by visiting www.justgiving.com/Lorna-Webb .

New future for Kingscote

Hitherto, Kingscote station has formed the Bluebell Railway’s northern terminus, but this will change as the extension through to East Grinstead steadily approaches fruition.

Plans are being worked up to develop a typical 1950s country station goods yard at Kingscote for the time when it becomes a through station.

This concept started to emerge a couple of years ago, the first step being the donation of a working ex-LBSCR goods yard crane from Singleton station (on the old Chichester to Midhurst line) by the West Dean Estate. The crane, in situ at Singleton since 1881, arrived at Kingscote over Christmas 2010 following which a committee was formed to progress the concept of developing a yard layout with suitable buildings.

Materials reclaimed following demolition of an ex-LBSCR staff cottage at Haywards Heath will be used to construct a coal office and weigh office. Funds have been found to provide a base for the crane to be installed and an authentic cattle pen will be constructed on the dock financed by a Mears Group corporate social responsibility initiative. Erection of a genuine SR loading gauge and coal staithes are also planned, along with suitable visitor interpretation.

Funds still need to be raised, designs for buildings finalised and planning permission secured. Other tasks include track arrangements, demolition of redundant extension project plant buildings, restoration of an ex-Horsted Keynes goods lock up, tree clearance and fencing.

9F to provide summer steam

Privately owned 9F No. 92212 will move from its Mid-Hants Railway base to the Bluebell following the MHR’s March 23-25 Great Spring Steam Gala. The 2-10-0 will stay on the Sussex line through the summer, basically covering the ‘gap’ between Bluebell-based BR 4MT 2-6-4T No. 80151 going out of ticket in May and the Maunsell Society’s SR S15 No. 847 entering Bluebell service following overhaul.

Bluebell-based ‘Battle of Britain’ No. 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair, withdrawn from service last November with firebox issues, is not expected back in traffic for a while. However, the return to steam of SECR H class 0-4-4T No. 263 is edging closer. The boiler is back in the frames having passed hydraulic and steam tests and its return must be in sight, although no date is being predicted.

Meanwhile…

The Bluebell’s out of ticket 0-6-0T ‘Terrier’ No. 72 Fenchurch was displayed outside the Brighton Centre as a ‘three dimensional advertisement’ during the February 24-26 Brighton Model World show held inside the building. It sat on a transporter sporting ‘Loco Dept Brighton Works’ vinyls on the side tanks, portraying the role filled by 'Terrier’ No. 380S (formerly No. 82 Boxhill, now in the NRM) until 1948 when this departmental function was taken over by No. DS377 (ex-No. 35 Morden) which was scrapped in 1963.

And at Sheffield Park, the Bluebell-based ‘Standard Class 2 Project’ (which is working towards producing a new BR Standard 2-6-2T No. 84030) has temporarily received two wheelsets. This enabled the chassis of the new ‘Standard’ 0-4-0 (!) to be moved from the workshops to the running shed to clear space for continued work on SECR H class 0-4-4T No. 263 and the Maunsell Society’s Q class 0-6-0 No. 541 in the main works. No. 84030 is expected to return to the main works before too long.

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