In a heartfelt goodbye to the nation’s oldest mainline electric trains, the Southern fleet of Class 313 trains, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) organised a special charity tour that raised over £25,000 for charities. The Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice in West Sussex was one of the beneficiaries of this generosity, receiving a cheque for £12,500 from the railway company.
The farewell tour, planned in conjunction with the Branch Line Society, made its way through Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Brighton, Three Bridges, Ore and Newhaven. Enthusiastic participants contributed to the charitable cause through ticket sales, a raffle, and an onboard auction. The grand total raised was £25,335.76. This amount will be shared equally between Chestnut Tree House and Railway Children, an organisation dedicated to the welfare of vulnerable youngsters.
The Class 313 trains, with an impressive service span of 47 years, are now retiring, giving way to the more modern, air-conditioned Electrostar trains. These new arrivals, which boast three times more reliability, promise to revolutionise passenger journeys along the coast between Portsmouth, Brighton, and Lewes.
GTR’s Network Operations Director, Chris Fowler, along with Network Rail, presented the cheque to Ella Pilkington of Chestnut Tree House. Expressing his delight at the successful charity initiative, Fowler said, “In the five decades the 313s have been operating, they’ve formed special memories for train crew, passengers, and customers. It’s wonderful that in honouring their service, rail enthusiasts have raised such a significant amount for children’s charities.”
Fowler also commended the behind-the-scenes efforts that went into the organisation of the farewell tours, acknowledging Duty Operations Manager Antony Yandell, who led the organising team, and everyone else who contributed to the cause. Over the past six years, these tours have raised a commendable £75,000 for various charities.
Pilkington expressed her profound gratitude for the donation on behalf of Chestnut Tree House. She highlighted the need for specialist care for hundreds of children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions in the community, and the support required by their families.
“It is thanks to the kindness and generosity of individuals and companies like Southern and its parent company GTR that Chestnut Tree House can continue to support these families on their challenging journeys. This donation of £12,500 is enough to fund a full day of all our care services, both at the hospice and out in the community. This truly makes a huge difference. On behalf of everyone at Chestnut Tree House, I’d like to say a huge thank you for your support.” she said.