NEWS FROM THE BLUEBELL RAILWAY
7 June 2020
Welcome to a further update from the Bluebell Railway. We hope you all continue to be healthy and safe.

In this newsletter, Bluebell Railway PLC Chairman Chris Hunford sets outthe Railway’s initial plans for reopening and the process being followed to allow visitors and volunteers to return safely.

The Emergency Appeal has now reached its initial target of £300,000, andfundraising organiser Trevor Swainson sets out how the money will be used. Thank you to everyone who has made a contribution.

There have been personnel changes on the Board and Society committee, and there are details of the new incumbents below. There is still a lot happening at the Railway“keep in touch with any updates on the Railway’s website and social media channels (links below).

By Paul Bromley, Communications Director
Chairman’s Message

I hope you’re all well and that your family and friends are well during these unprecedented times. Since the Railway closed in March a significant amount has changed across the UK and the world, and everyonehas been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way.

Friends and loved ones have been lost, we’ve adapted to new ways of working, many of us have been home schooling, and our NHS has risen to the challenge and succeeded. And now, as we move into the summer, we seethe first signs of the lockdown easing and the beginnings of life returning to normal.
So what’s been happening at the Bluebell Railway? Since the Railway closed in March. a lot has happened and all of it behind the scenes.

For instance, we have seen our income dry up overnight; we have placed our staff on the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough); BRPS Chairman Graham Aitken resigned with Vice Chairman Steve Bigg picking up the reigns; Roy Watts has been appointed as BRPS Acting Vice Chairman; the Board has held all of its meetings via Zoom and Microsoft Teams; Board meetings have been held twice per month and attended by the BRPS and Trust as part of “One Railway” we’ve lost friends and colleagues, such as Infrastructure Director Chris White; newappointments to the Board have been made; and we’ve launched our Coronavirus emergency appeal.

All of this has happened remotely, and I’m very grateful to my PLC Boardcolleagues, the BRPS Trustees, the Bluebell Railway Trust, and our management team who have all worked extremely hard to make sure the Railway successfully comes through this pandemic. I’m also extremely grateful to you“our members, shareholders, supporters, and others“who have given so generously to our appeal, which has now met its £300,000 initial target. Thank you.

As part of our fortnightly Board meetings, we have been investigating when and how the Railway could reopen in line with government guidelinesand other advice. This plan is not only for the public but also for members and volunteers, a large proportion of whom I know are eager to volunteer again.

I’m pleased to say we are almost there with our plans, the content of which is being written into a comprehensive reopening plan, supported byrisk assessments, social distancing guidance, health and well-being guidance, service plans, timetables, catering offerings, carriage requirements, locomotive requirements, communications, and our Safety Management System.

The Office of Rail and Road has provided helpful guidance on what heritage railways should look for and do because it’s not as easy as just turning up and getting going again.

Should the Government’s five tests continue to be met, our plan is to reopen the Railway at some point over the summer and provide a certain level of public service trains along with our dining trains. There will be a phased reintroduction of staff across all departments followed by aphased reintroduction of volunteers. Some safety critical and vital heritage skilled staff will return before opening to start implementing the plan so that our Railway is safe and ready for when the public arrive.

Certain volunteers will be asked to come back before reopening too, especially those who work tirelessly to make sure the Railway is clean, crisp, presentable, and the envy of other railways. As a Board we still have some more key details to work through, so please bear with us for just a little longer“exact opening dates and the plan will be published very soon.

This year is of course our 60th anniversary year, and the Diamond Jubilee Steering Group had planned a significant event for August. However, we have had to postpone our plans. We will mark the occasion this year with a more low-key celebration, but I’m pleased to say that our anniversary will be commemorated more fully in 2021, when we can suitably recognise our 60 years at the forefront of railway preservation. I look forward to seeing you all at that event.

Finally, I’d like to thank you all for your support and patience. Much has changed over the last three months, and things will continue to change. Our Railway won’t be immune to that change, either in the short or long term. However, we will reopen, our famous steam locomotives and rolling stock will run again, our stations will fill with people, our staff and volunteers will be back hard at work, our infrastructure will be renewed, and the sound and smell of steam will be in the air.

Please look out for a further update very soon, and in the meantime stay safe. I look forward to seeing you all very soon.

By Chris Hunford, Chairman, Bluebell Railway PLC
Emergency Appeal Hits £300K

Good news. The Emergency Appeal hit its initial £300,000 fundraising target on the morning of Friday, 5 June!

A thousand thanks“in fact, three-hundred thousand thanks“to everyone whohas contributed to the appeal and helped the Railway to survive the shutdown. The money will be used to keep key heritage skills in Sussex and ensure we can reopen when it is safe to do so.

Specifically, the initial target helps to cover our costs and expenses during the lockdown and to fund the necessary spending to reopen. We arestill raising money because we don’t yet know when the lockdown restrictions will be eased and what measures must be put in place to allow heritage railways to welcome visitors safely. Anyone who wishes todonate can still contribute via the button below.

Continuing uncertainty over the pandemic means we will keep the appeal going, to help the Railway through the rest of 2020 and over the winter months, when we traditionally have less income but still have bills to pay and overheads to meet.

By Trevor Swainson, Funding Governor, Bluebell Railway Trust
TrevorSwainson was interviewed by BBC Radio Sussex on 29 May for a story thatwas broadcast on its social media channels. The story has been viewed thousands of times and shared by hundreds of people. Watch the segment on Facebook or Twitter .
Bluebell Storytime for children of all ages continues on YouTube.

Below, enjoy education volunteer Ruth Rowatt reading Crossing Time on the Blueberry Line, episode one.

Other episodes of this tale, as well as plenty of other fun stories, can be heard on the Storytime YouTube channel .
Virtual Track Trek Planned for 27 June

Since 2013 the Bluebell Railway has often run a sponsored walk along allor part of the running line to raise money for various causes.

We cannot do our traditional walk this year, but we are instead invitingsupporters to raise money for our Emergency Appeal by participating in a Virtual Track Trek on 27 June 2020.

The Virtual Track Trek involves:

  • Sponsorship for walking a total of 4.5 miles, which is the distance from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes.
  • Choosing a location for the walk: at home, in your garden or nearby,where social distancing can be achieved without inconveniencing the public.
  • Walking on your own or with your family group.
  • Selecting the time of day on 27 June that you wish to walk, bearing in mind the weather.

Bluebell Railway PLC, Society, and Trust representatives will be taking part in the Virtual Track Trek, including BRPS Acting Chairman Steve Bigg, Trust Chairman Vernon Blackburn, and PLC Commercial and Retail Director Paul Lelew. My fiancée Maureen and I will be doing the Trek close to where we live on the South Coast.

Additionally Cllr Danny Favor, the Mayor of East Grinstead, and his partner will be walking their 4.5. miles around the council offices grounds at East Court.

We are encouraging Trekkers to promote the Virtual Track Trek on social media and use the hashtag #SteamingThrough60 . Even if you have already donated to the Emergency Appeal, this is an opportunity to help the Railway by seeking sponsorship from family and friends.

The Emergency Appeal has been very successful. The Virtual Track Trek will be a further boost. In true Bluebell Railway tradition of being a pathfinder, we believe we are the first Heritage Railway to attempt a virtual sponsored track walk, so do please take part!

By Roger Kelly, BRPS Trustee
To take part in the Virtual Track Trek, you can either create your own fundraising page or download asponsorship form. Instructions for how to do either are available here .

If you use the form, when you have collected the money, please send the form and a cheque to: BluebellRailway Trust, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL

PLEASE NOTE: The Railway itself is out of bounds, so please do not try to walk on the track as has happened in the past. Walks in public are at your own risk and you must stick to the guidelines in place at the time for social distancing. Please do not breach the guidelines in order to take part in the Virtual Track Trek or to complete it.
Counting Down: 60 Days
 
On8 June, it will be 60 days until the Railway’s 60th birthday. Every day“starting from tomorrow and running until 7 August“there will be a special post on the Railway’s social media channels to mark 60 years of operating as a preserved railway. The posts will include fun facts, archive videos, and photographs from yesteryear.
 
Therewill also be a series of new videos called 󈬬 seconds with ...” which,as the name suggests, are one minute long and feature people talking about a different aspect of volunteering at the Railway. These were all filmed and edited before lockdown.
 
All the posts will use the hashtag #SteamingThrough60 and will appear on Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram .
 
There is also a special webpage for the countdown that will include the plans for a virtual celebrationof 60 years of operation. The major celebrations of 60 years of operating as a heritage line have been postponed until next year.

By Paul Bromley, Communications Director
Video Countdown to 60

As part of the Bluebell Railway’s countdown to our virtual 60th birthday ,we are inviting visitors and enthusiasts to submit video clips taken atthe Railway. We would like to include some of your clips on our social media and  YouTube channel .

Here’s what we are looking for:

  • Video clips should be submitted as .mp4 files.
  • Videos should be preferably three minutes in length, although some clips of up to 15 mins may be considered for the Railway's YouTube channel .
  • Please show Bluebell Railway or Bluebell Railway engines “on tour”
  • We’d like a range of topics covered: not just engines, but people, places, and different roles and occasions on the line.
  • Coverthe period 1960 to the present day: we would love to see some of the older footage if you have any digitised. Older video will be featured near the beginning of our countdown, which starts on 8 June with 1960 and moves progressively through the years until will reach 2020 on 7 August.

Send your footage to our volunteer editor Martin Lawrence at  video@riff-raff.org . Please use the free WeTransfer service for files up to 2GB.

Don’t forget to say when your video was taken, what it shows and who it was taken by, so that we can properly credit you.

Thefine print: We can’t guarantee inclusion and videos may be edited. The Bluebell Railway and its agents can’t take responsibility for any copyright issues arising. Material is submitted free of charge or obligation. If your film is not selected, please share your footage via social media on the special day: 7 August. Thank you for your help and support!
IMPORTANT NOTICE: AllBluebell Railway events up until the end of August have either been cancelled or postponed. Events from the start of September until the endof December remain under review.
Interim Infrastructure Director Named

Chartered civil engineer Barry Luck is to join the board of Bluebell Railway PLC as Interim Infrastructure Director. Barry worked for 40 years in the water industry and was involved in the design and construction of various projects as well as serving on management boards.

Barry has been volunteering at the Railway since 2011 on restoration projects and as a platform staff and signalman. Since January 2017 he has been the volunteer project manager for the OP4 Carriage Shed and Heritage Skills Centre at Horsted Keynes.

“I am not a specialist in railway infrastructure management, but as a civil engineer I am sufficiently practical to be able to understand the issues,” Barry says. “As a director, I would expect to take a broad overview of issues and solutions, relying on the expertise of those around me to provide the best technical advice.

“As a dedicated BRPS member and active volunteer for the Bluebell, I have a particular interest in the continuing success of the Railway,” headds.

PLC Chairman Chris Hunford says, “The board is very pleased that Barry is joining us to take the Railway through the post-COVID-19 era and onwards into 2021.”

Barry Luck replaces Chris White who passed away on 12 May 2020 after a short battle with cancer. You can find out more about Barry in the latest issue of The Bluebell Times .

By Paul Bromley, Communications Director
Society Treasurer Chosen

Jan Kozminski has become Treasurer Designate of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society. In the light of the necessary postponement of thisyear's Annual General Meeting, Jan will become Treasurer Designate until the AGM can be held. At that point he can be formally appointed tothe role. Jan replaces Nigel Longdon who stands down after seven years in the role.

“I joined British Rail as a graduate trainee in the Signalling & Telecommmunications Department and have worked on the Southern and Scottish regions,” says Jan. “I left the railway after five years and worked in various organisations in electronics and telecoms. During thattime, I was on two occasions a voluntary treasurer of different organisations.”

After taking early retirement, Jan joined the Bluebell Railway’s S&TDepartment in 2005 and worked on many projects, including as a member of the Wednesday Gang on the East Grinstead Extension and Kingscote resignalling. “I have also been responsible for the conversion of the lighting of all the mechanical signals to LED operation.”

Jan adds, “I also served a period as one of the Society Representatives to the Trust. I now look forward to overseeing the Preservation Society's finances, particularly in the challenging times which are ahead of us.”

By Steve Bigg, Acting Chairman, BRPS

Photo by Chris Majer.
BLUEBELL NEWS SUMMER EDITION

Thesummer edition of Bluebell News will be in a digital format only and there will be no printed copies sent out to members. The issue will be available for downloading here .

The spring issue is still available at that link.
Update on Virtual Steam Gala

The plans for a Virtual Steam Gala (as mentioned in eNewsletter #196) are taking shape. Volunteer Lance Allen reports he has received some excellent video of members' own model railways, and he will build one ormore compilations as our "Virtual Steam Gala".

There’s room for more footage so please keep sending him your contributions.

  • Videos should be shot in landscape mode and be no more than two minutes.
  • Please do not send the videos directly as large email attachments because they may not get through. Instead, use the WeTransfer website , which is a free service for files up to 2GB.
  • Include your full name, BRPS membership number, town or area of residence, and, importantly, the name of your layout if it has one.
  • Send to lance705@btinternet.com .

The fine print: We can't guarantee inclusion and videos may be edited. The Bluebell Railway and its agents can't take responsibility for any copyright issues arising. Material is submitted free of charge or obligation. Thank you for your contributions!
Experience West Sussex Video Features Bluebell Railway

Experience West Sussex has put together a promotional video to highlight all the tourist attractions in the county“and the BluebellRailway is featured (at approximately the 30 second mark). The video has been compiled by the various local authorities and tourism groups inthe county to attract visitors to the area.

The idea for a promotional video pre-dates the lockdown. Experience WestSussex originally intended to highlight various attractions as the political and economic uncertainty over Brexit ended and the opportunities for “staycations” increased.

The group went ahead with the project even after the virus pandemic began and the video is now being used to encourage people to visit the area when the lockdown restrictions are further eased.
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Thankyou for reading our eNewsletter. It's because of our members, volunteers, visitors, and supporters that the Railway continues its success.

Pleasecontinue to support us by passing this issue on to your friends, family, and/or colleagues by forwarding using the social media links above, or encourage others to sign up for the eNewsletter  at this link

If you ever have a question, comment, or contribution, don't hesitate to get in touch with me at  newsletter@bluebell-railway.co.uk .

Sincerely, 
 
John Walls
Editor-in-Chief, eNewsletter
Bluebell Railway

© Bluebell Railway Preservation Society 2020