STEAM train driver Russ Hubner made a piece of railway history today when he drove the first passenger train since 1958 from East Grinstead to Sheffield Park.
With firewoman Barbara Jarvis he took the olive green locomotive The Pioneer 11 miles from snow-covered East Grinstead on the Bluebell Line just after 9.45 am.
It was the first time a passenger train had run on the route since the section of the old Lewes-East Grinstead was axed in 1958 after a bitter fight for survival followed by a revival by the Bluebell Line Preservation Society spearheaded by the late Bernard Holden, MBE, from Ditchling. Mr Holden, 104, had hoped to ride on the footplate but died in October, and he was remembered during the ride.
Mr Hubner, from Henfield, began as a teenage volunteer with the the steam railway and told a Mid Sussex Times reporter after pulling into Sheffield Park station just after 10.35 am: “It was fantastic. We got a huge cheer at East Grinstead.”
The first passenger train in the other direction was a breakfast special that sold out for its 9.30am trip.
A celebration train tonight is also a sell-out, and trains are running today on the route as part of a fortnight’s celebrations of the historic link-up with the main line.
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Weather for Haywards Heath
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North west