Bluebell Railway receives grant towards reopening

Bluebell Railway. Picture: Andrew Strongitharm.

The Bluebell Railway, a not-for-profit heritage line, has received a Government grant to help it move towards reopening.

It has been awarded £272,400 in the second round of grants from the Culture Recovery Fund.

Vernon Blackburn, chairman of the Bluebell Railway Trust which is its charitable arm, said: “We are grateful to the Culture Recovery Fund for approving our Round 2 application in full. The money will help us ensure we have the people and resources to reopen in line with Government guidelines next month.”

Salaries

The money will pay for some of the railway’s costs between April and June. It includes the salaries of skilled heritage staff including those working in the locomotive and carriage and wagon workshops who repair, maintain and overhaul the line’s fleet of historic steam engines and carriages.

Bluebell Railway Plc interim chairman Graham Flight said: “It is fantastic news that we have received this money from the Culture Recovery Fund which will mean we can continue to provide our customers with the high level of service for which the Bluebell is renowned. We can’t wait to welcome passengers back to the line.”

Track

The line, which runs on 11 miles of track from Sheffield Park in East Sussex to East Grinstead in West Sussex, was also given £727,200 by the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage last autumn to help it survive over the winter.

Some of that money has been used on virtual tours which have helped the Railway to maintain its online presence while it has been closed.

The Bluebell Railway has set a provisional reopening date of Thursday, May 20, in line with the Government’s roadmap for easing out of lockdown.

Train services

The railway last ran public train services on December 24, 202,0 ahead of the whole of Sussex moving into Tier 4 on December 26, and then the national lockdown from January.

Details of the Bluebell Railway’s services are at www.bluebell-railway.com

The Culture Recovery Fund is part of the rescue package announced by the Government “to safeguard cultural and heritage organisations across England from the economic impact of Covid-19”.

Round 2 was designed “to support organisations to make the transition towards full reopening”.

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