The Hastings Blue Belle charter

Saturday 6 November 2010

This article was closed on 12 January 2011

[PHOTO: Train approaching on new track in sunshine: 82kB]

Above: Our train returns over the newly-relaid track from Imberhorne Viaduct to the Bluebell Railway’s brand-new East Grinstead station. Photo by Phil Barnes.

The Bluebell Railway chartered our train to run from Hastings via London to East Grinstead (Southern), and then via a link siding and onto the Bluebell Railway’s own track and station at East Grinstead.

This section of railway is being re-opened yard by yard as the railway’s cutting at Imberhorne is re-excavated, as it had been used for landfill after closure. The Bluebell Railway’s website contains an illustrated account of this process.

The outing was scheduled to depart from Hastings at 0706hrs and call at Battle, Etchingham, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Orpington, then reversing in a bay platform at London Bridge to head non-stop via Forest Hill and Oxted to East Grinstead. Whilst there it was to run onto the Network Rail siding beyond the station, reverse off that onto the Bluebell metals along which it would visit the latter’s station, Imberhorne Viaduct and the then limit of railway in the re-excavated portion of Imberhorne cutting. The return from East Grinstead (Network Rail) was booked for 1655hrs and via the same route, arriving in Hastings at 2040hrs.

The train was formed thus: 60116-60529-70262-69337-60501-60118, with motor coach 60118 Tunbridge Wells leading on departure from Hastings. The outward and return trips ran to time throughout, and whilst on the Bluebell Railway our train made 13 trips from East Grinstead station across Imberhorne Viaduct to the current end of the cutting, and back.

Cab video footage

Video footage from a forward-facing camera mounted in the cab has been made available in a separate news-article


[PHOTO: Train in station having overall roof: 64kB]

Above: At London Bridge on the outward leg of the journey.

[PHOTO: Train in wooded area: 58kB]

Above: Our preserved train runs through Lingfield, just two stations away from the terminus at East Grinstead. The train’s slip-stream is visibly carrying along a trail of fallen leaves from the trees, which when crushed under train wheels can cause severe rail-adhesion problems for trains at this time of year. Photo by Ian Hall.

[PHOTO: Train approaching station in cutting: 73kB]

Above & below: Our train arriving at Southern’s terminus at East Grinstead. Photos by Phil Barnes.

[PHOTO: Train entering station in cutting: 72kB]

[PHOTO: Train proceeding over points: 54kB]

Above & below: After calling at East Grinstead (Southern) station, our train proceeded into the Network Rail siding beyond. Photos by Phil Barnes.

[PHOTO: Rear of train with points: 67kB]

[PHOTO: Trains in sunshine: 67kB]

Above: From the siding, a set of points leads to the newly-laid trackwork and platform of the East Grinstead (Bluebell) station. Photo by Phil Barnes.

[PHOTO: Train and viaduct: 60kB]

Above: The East Grinstead section of the Bluebell Railway runs as yet for just a short distance, crossing the impressive Imberhorne Viaduct. Passenger trains only recommenced running here on 4 September 2010, having previously been absent since 1958.

[PHOTO: Train on viaduct: 71kB]

The Imberhorne Railtour of 1983 involving sister DEMU 1031 is described as visiting the siding and entering upon the viaduct—the siding-track went further in those days. Photo by Phil Barnes, who also photographed that railtour and confirmed the above.

[PHOTO: Trackless railway-cutting: 99kB]

Above: At the time of our train’s visit, the track ended shortly after the viaduct and part-way into the Imberhorne Cutting, which had been filled with domestic waste after the railway originally closed. This is being re-excavated to allow the railway to run here again; fresh ballast can be seen, and since these photos were taken track has been re-laid in this area.

[PHOTO: Train at end of track in cutting: 99kB]

Above & below: Views by Ian Hall and Phil Barnes of our train on different trips (of 13) that it made to Imberhorne Cutting during the course of the day.

[PHOTO: Train at end of track: 64kB]

[PHOTO: Trains in station, track-level view: 64kB]

Above & below: The north end of our train, alongside the Bluebell’s 4-VEP electric multiple unit, at East Grinstead (Bluebell) platform. Photos by John Simmonds.

[PHOTO: Train in station platform: 45kB]