WE'RE BACK AND WE'RE GOOD TO GO
It’s full steam ahead as Bluebell Railway meets the challenges of the new era of social distancing!
Find out what new measures we have put into place to make your visit safe and enjoyable HERE.
Steaming through 60
60 years on from opening the first heritage steam railway of its kind in the UK, we have reimagined a brand new service for brand new times. The new named trains pay homage to our long history of running preserved steam and are a nod to the early days of our ‘pioneer line’, as it was once known.
A steam train ride through Sussex countryside
Make your steam dreams come true with either a table in the spacious comfort of our restaurant cars or a trip in your own private compartment with your family. All of our services are limited and in demand, so don’t leave it too late to book your tickets!
If you have visited before, you will find things are a little different – but still great!
Due to the demands of social distancing, all our services begin and end at either Sheffield Park Station or Horsted Keynes Station. There is plenty of parking at these stations and the space to make your day relaxed and fun.
Please note: If you would like to use a Gift Voucher purchased from our Shop to book your tickets, you will need to call our Customer Services team to book: 01825 720800.
When you arrive
The Government has announced that changes came into force in England on Monday 14 September limiting the number of people who can meet socially. It is against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than six unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble.
This means visitors to the Bluebell Railway have to be in groups of six people or fewer unless you are visiting as a household or support bubble which is larger than six.
Upon arrival we will be asking all visitors to confirm who they are, how many people are in their group and confirm that they comply with the new law on group sizes.
In line with Government policy and advice, we would like all visitors, except those exempt, to wear face coverings in our busy public areas e.g. in and around the station buildings, on platforms and when getting on or off our trains please. Once seated on a dining train or within the bubble of your own compartment, you may remove face coverings. We have reduced the onboard seating capacity on dining trains to allow for social distancing.
All of our services have a departure time. We ask that people arrive for their booked service 20 minutes before the train leaves. We don’t want you standing for a long time in a socially distanced queue. Boarding will be approximately 10 minutes before departure. If you are early, we encourage you to wait in your car or make use of our picnic area and green spaces located near the main carparks.
There will be no access to the station before that time. If you need to use the toilet facilities, the station building toilets will be available – just ask a member of staff at the entrance to the station house.
Find out what other changes have been made for additional hygiene and safety measures here.
Eating and drinking
For now, The Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park and platform seating is closed, but the Kiosk on Platform 1 is open. We have put extra seating in our riverside picnic area. Also, there will be a convenient pop-up kiosk for those who have already left the station or are waiting for entry, located next to the main approach at the station house.
Pre-order food and drink
Travelling on The Pioneer? Take the hassle out of the day and do it in style! Pre-book a hygienically pre-packed picnic for the train! Add food and drink options when you book and have your order waiting for you as you board your compartment.
Things to see and do
At Sheffield Park Station, the railway museum and SteamWorks!, an interactive exhibition showcasing the science and history of steam and some of our impressive collection of locomotives, are both open with one-way systems in place and enhanced cleaning schedules. If you are travelling on The Pioneer, you will have time to visit these after your journey. For The Rocket and Cream Tea Riviera, there will be a stop of approximately 30 minutes at Sheffield Park to look around.
At Kingscote, the paddock will be open and is a great place to view the locomotive as it runs round. To respect the safety of our footplate crew, there will be no access to the footplate or within their working space – so this is a good spot for photographs. The children’s playground and the kiosk will be open. The toilet facilities will be open and will benefit from enhanced cleaning schedules.
Please observe the strict one-way system in force. However, this should not impede the enjoyment of your day, merely enhance your safety.
What is the latest advice about visiting?
The Government has announced that changes came into force in England on Monday 14 September limiting the number of people who can meet socially. It is against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than six unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble. This means visitors to the Bluebell Railway have to be in groups of six people or fewer unless you are visiting as a household or support bubble which is larger than six. We will be asking all visitors to confirm who they are, how many people are in their group and confirm that they comply with the new law on group sizes. This will apply to anyone who has pre-booked online and people who turn up on the day for tickets.
Can I buy a ticket on the day?
Bookings can be made online or by phone with our Customer Services Team on 01825 720800. If spare seats are available we will have a limited number of tickets available on the day but this can not be guaranteed so please book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Can I purchase a rover ticket and get on and off different trains?
Our new services are timed specials. Tickets are valid for the service, time and date specified on the ticket only. This is part of the new measures we have put in place to help combat Covid-19.
Can I upgrade my ticket on the day?
Tickets are only valid for class of travel booked - no upgrades are available.
Can I buy a platform ticket?
Platform tickets are available on weekends only at Sheffield Park Station. Tickets cost £3 for adults and £1.50 for children.
Are there any discounts on tickets?
We regret we are unable to offer Carers discount on our services at this current time. We are also unable to offer discount travel for ATOC card holders or other 3rd party discount schemes. All BRPS members can purchase tickets for The Pioneer at a 20% discount prior to travel and at their usual discounted price from 5pm one day prior to travel. They may also purchase tickets for our dining services at a 20% discount from 5pm one day prior to travel. Proof of membership will be required on the day of travel
Are your services accessible?
We regret that owing to the age and design of the carriages used for our service, we are currently unable to accommodate wheelchair-bound passengers. If you or a member of your party have mobility issues and would like to travel on this service, please call our Customer Services Team on 01825 720800 who will be happy to discuss your requirements with you.
Will the Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park Station be open?
We regret that it will not be open to serve meals and there will be no extra seating on platforms to give visitors extra space for social distancing. However, the platform kiosk and a pop-up kiosk near the station forecourt will be selling drinks, snacks and ice cream and we have put extra seating into our picnic areas. You can also pre-order food and drink when booking The Pioneer, which will to be waiting for you in your own compartment when you board.
Will the shop at Sheffield Park Station be open?
The shop will be open to ticket holders on their visit and accessed via the platform only. There will be a limit on the number of people within the shop premises. If you would like to visit our shop only, it will be open on weekdays (except Monday), when services are not running, to non-ticket holders. The shop stocks a range of souvenirs and gifts. You can also buy products from our online shop: www.bluebell-railway.com/shop
Will the Bulleid Shop at Sheffield Park Station be open?
Statement from Bulleid Society: It is with great regret that we are unable to open the Bulleid Shop at the moment. The safety of our customers, shop staff and Bluebell volunteers must be our main priority. The shop will remain closed for the time being or until there is a change in the Government guidelines which will enable us to re-open in a safe manner. We would be grateful if you would not bring any donations until the shop opens again, as we do not have the facilities to quarantine any items at the moment. Please accept our apologies for this ongoing closure. Thank you for your patience and understanding during these difficult times.
Can I pay at the kiosks or in the shop with card?
We will be serving hot and cold snacks from our catering outlets. Contactless payments are available and we will also be accepting cash.
Can I bring my own picnic?
Of course you may. Both Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park Stations have picnic areas or green spaces with extra seating and we encourage people to use these on the day. There will be refreshments for sale at Sheffield park, including filled rolls, snacks and drinks – so don’t worry if you haven’t got time to pack a picnic. There is also an option to add food and drink to your ticket at time of booking The Pioneer. This will then be placed in your compartment to enjoy on the journey.
Can I bring by child’s pushchair on the train?
We regret that prams/buggies/pushchairs cannot be taken on this service. They may be left in the care of the station staff at the departure station.
Will the toilets be open?
Toilets on the platforms at all stations will be open. An enhanced cleaning schedule is in place.
Have you put in any new safety measures against Covid-19?
Yes, we have fully risk assessed all areas and activities on the railway and put new measures in. Find out more about those measures at: https://www.bluebell-railway.com/covid-19-safety-measures/
Will I have to wear a face covering like on the mainline?
In line with Government policy and advice, we would like all visitors, unless those exempt according to official guidelines, to wear face coverings in our busy public areas e.g. in and around the station buildings, on platforms and when getting on or off our trains please. Once seated on a dining train or within the bubble of your own compartment, you may remove face coverings. We have reduced the onboard seating capacity on dining trains to allow for social distancing.
Will East Grinstead Station be open?
We regret that services will be starting and finishing at Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park Stations only. The platform will not be open to the general public.
Can I bring my dog?
Dogs are welcome and may travel in your compartment on The Pioneer, but not on any dining services. Please keep your dog on a short lead and under control in public areas. Please keep them off the seats in our vintage compartments.
Will any trains be running to East Grinstead?
Due to an issue with the track bed north of Kingscote following recent weather conditions, trains will be running to Kingscote only. Our infrastructure team is working to fix the issue as soon as possible.
Will gift vouchers be extended?
If gift vouchers were purchased prior to 6th August 2020 they will automatically be extended to 31st December 2021. No action is required, this extension will be automatically allocated at the time of reservation.