Two charities have received cheques from Govia Thameslink Railway for over £12,500 each, raised as part of an event marking the retirement of the Southern fleet of Class 313 trains.
Chestnut Tree House, a West Sussex-based children’s hospice, and Railway Children, a charity for at-risk youngsters, were the recipients of cheques from the train operator with the money raised at last month’s special charity tour.
Organised with the help of the Branch Line Society, the farewell tour visited Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Brighton, Three Bridges, Ore and Newhaven. Ticket sales, a raffle and an on-board auction raised a total of £25,335.76 which GTR is dividing between the two charities.
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The 47-year-old Class 313s were the country’s oldest mainline electric trains. Southern has replaced them with modern, air-conditioned Electrostar trains, which are three times more reliable, to transform passenger travel along the coast between Portsmouth, Brighton and Lewes.
Chris Fowler, Network Operations Director for GTR and Network Rail, presented the cheque to Ella Pilkington of Chestnut Tree House. Chris said: “In the five decades the 313s have been operating, they’ve formed special memories for train crew, passengers, and customers. It’s great that in honouring their service, rail enthusiasts have raised such a magnificent sum for children’s charities.
“Over the past six years GTR has arranged other farewell tours to mark the withdrawal of our older fleets and with this latest tour now complete, we have raised £75,000 for charity. Arranging these tours takes a lot of work and I want to say a huge thanks to Antony Yandell, our Duty Operations Manager, who led the organising team, and everyone who has played a part.”
Ella Pilkington at Chestnut Tree House said: “There are hundreds of children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions in our local community who require specialist care, and even more parents and family members who need help and support.
“It is thanks to the kindness and generosity of individuals and companies like Southern and its parent company GTR that Chestnut Tree House can be there for each family on their journey – now and in the future. This donation of £12,500 is enough to pay for a full day of all our care services, both at the hospice and out in the community, so really will make a huge difference. On behalf of everyone at Chestnut Tree House, I’d like to say a huge thank you for your support.”