FAQs

About Bluebell Railway

How long is the line?

Bluebell Railway runs across 11 miles from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead, stopping at Horsted Keynes and Kingscote.

What is the speed limit on the line?

25 miles an hour. While many of our steam engines would be capable of running much faster than this, there are many places on our line where the trains ran at this sort of speed in the ‘old days’.

How do I get there?

Bluebell Railway is between London and the South Coast, in the beautiful Sussex Weald near the Ashdown Forest. Access by train is easy from London and Croydon since it is only a short walk between stations in East Grinstead. A variety of buses run to the railway, and free car parking is available to Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes.

You can find out how to get to Bluebell Railway here.

Can I drive a steam engine?

Yes, we offer Footplate Taster experiences, the perfect day for anyone who has ever dreamed of being an engine driver.

How is it safe to run trains in both directions on a single line?

The signalling system we use is designed to prevent more than one train being on the “single line” at a time. The train driver must have a token before entering the section of line, and the machine that issues these in the signal box at one end of the section of line is linked to the machine at the next signal box, and also with the signals, and so “blocks” the line to any other train.

Can I dine on the train?

Yes, we run Golden Arrow services, Afternoon Tea trains, lunches, suppers and Rail Ale events across the year. More information is available here.

Tickets & Times

Is Bluebell Railway open and running trains every day of the year?

Bluebell Railway runs regular train services throughout the year, including every day from the end of May until the beginning of September, as well as during the school holidays. We also run trains Wednesday to Sunday in April, May, September and October, and during weekends in March.

We also run special Christmas services, including Santa Specials and dining trains during December, as well as a Christmas Service between Boxing Day and the New Year. Our full timetables can be found here.

Even when we are not running trains, Sheffield Park Station is still open for platform viewing every day except Christmas Day. Come and browse our shop and enjoy a bite to eat in the Bessemer Arms.

Please note there is no charge for platform entry when trains are not running.

What is the difference between First and Third class tickets?

Some of our visitors prefer to pay a little more to travel in greater comfort and seclusion, and we have some beautifully restored first class carriages. These have plusher and more luxurious seating.

Why are there “Third” class tickets? 

In the 19th century there were 1st, 2nd and 3rd class carriages (and even 4th-class at one time). The railway companies simplified things by abolishing second class (except on some special trains, such as international trains to the continent). In 1956 Third Class was re-named “Second”, and is now known as “Standard” Class on the national rail network. We continue to use the old description, since it matches the way the coaches are restored to their original condition.

What are the opening times?

Our opening times vary according to service, special events and time of year. This week’s opening times can be found here.

How much does it cost to travel on the Bluebell Railway and do I need to pay to visit the platform only?

An All Day Unlimited Rover ticket costs £19 for adults and £9.50 for children if bought on the day of travel, or £16 for adults and £8 for children if bought online in advance.

We also offer family tickets, and BRPS members travel for half price.

You can also buy a platform only tickets to visit the attractions when trains are running. There is no charge for platform entry on non-service days.

More information about our fares is available here.

Can I buy my ticket in advance?

Yes, you can book your tickets in advance. You can buy your tickets at the Booking Office when you arrive at the railway or book online to save money. You can book online here.

Am I booked for a specific time?

Your all day rover ticket is valid on all public services operating on the day of your visit. If you are looking to travel at a specific time, then arrive at the station at least 30 minutes prior to departure time.

What ticket do I need to buy for my child?

Children aged 0 – 2 years do not need a travel ticket as they travel for free. Children aged between 3 – 15 years qualify for a child rate which is half price of the adult rate. All tickets and fare information is available here.

Disabled access & Carers

Do you offer discounts for carers?

Carers travel for free when accompanying any registered disabled passenger. Carers still get their own ticket and need to visit the booking office on the day of their visit. Please bring along a form of identification with you to show you are acting as a carer for the visit.

Do you have disabled parking?

Disabled Parking is available at Sheffield Park Station. It is up the main drive and into the second car park on the left. There are limited disabled parking spaces at East Grinstead Station adjacent to our station entrance.

Are the stations accessible for wheelchairs?

All our stations from the car parks are on one level and do not have steps. We currently have operational carriages that can accommodate wheelchairs. To find out when these are operating, please visit our Today at the Railway page. We have disabled toilets at Sheffield Park, Kingscote and East Grinstead Stations. Platform and train staff are on hand to assist you during your visit and on or off the trains when needed. Please note that we do not provide wheelchairs for passenger use.

Dogs, Prams & Bicycles

Can my dog travel on the Bluebell Railway?

Yes, dogs are welcome at the Bluebell Railway on our standard operating days. Dogs require their own ticket to travel at the cost of £2.00.

During Special Events there may be some restrictions, so advise you to check before travelling. Dogs, except registered assistance dogs, are not permitted into any catering outlets, the museum at Sheffield Park or on any of our on board dining services.

We respectfully ask that all dogs are kept on a short lead and that you do not let your dog climb up onto the carriage seats.

Can I bring my Pram or Pushchair?

Collapsible Prams and pushchairs can be accommodated on board the train using the luggage racks overhead. Larger Prams and Pushchairs can often be stored in the luggage compartment of the train subject to availability. On busy days or special events, prams and pushchairs can be stored at your starting point until you return.

Can I bring my Bicycle with me?

Bicycles can be accommodated at the Railway in the luggage compartment of the train, subject to availability. Bicycles require their own ticket at the cost of £2.00. There is limited space at the Stations where Bicycles can be stored during your visit.

Hiring us for Weddings & Events

Can I have my wedding at the Bluebell Railway?

Yes, our Birch Grove Suite at Sheffield Park and a more intimate room on one of the platforms at Horsted Keynes are licenced for civil weddings, and we frequently also host wedding receptions, either in the Birch Grove Suite or on the Golden Arrow Pullman Train.

You can download our wedding brochure here.. You can also contact our wedding coordinator on 01825 720800.

Can I hire the railway for an event or function?

Yes, please call our customer services team on 01825 720800.

Group Bookings

Can I bring a group to the Bluebell Railway?

Yes, we cater for groups of all sizes. If there are 15 or more in your group then you qualify for a privilege group rate. Details of these are on the fares page. You can book your group booking by calling 01825 720800.

What can the railway offer for schools?

Contact us to discuss what the railway can offer for school trips. Visits can be tied into the national curriculum.

Membership & Volunteering

How do I become a Member?

You can download an application form to become a member of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society here. If you are visiting us you can also apply to become a member in the shop at Sheffield Park Station or at our booking offices.

Can I become a volunteer?

Yes please! We are always looking to attract volunteers. We have four Stations, dozens of items of rolling stock, 11 miles of track and many other projects in between. Everyone is welcome no matter what your skill or how much time you have to spare, we’d love you to join us. We hold volunteer ‘Find Out More Days’ on the second Sunday of every month meeting at Sheffield Park. To become a volunteer you will first need to become a member of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society.

How many of the staff are volunteers?

All the station staff, signalmen, drivers, firemen and guards, and many other staff carrying out restoration and maintenance. Our Trustees and Directors are also unpaid volunteers. We do also have a core of full-time staff, involved with administration, maintenance of the locomotives and carriages, and in catering, but many volunteers also help in these areas.

How can children get involved?

The Stepney Club is for children up to 8 years old, whilst the 9F Club enables 9 to 15 year olds to get more actively involved.

You can find out more here.

Locomotives

Which Locomotives are running today?

You can find out which Locomotives are running today here.

Why aren’t they all in service?

Steam engines are expensive to maintain, and after an overhaul they can normally only run for another ten years before we have to dismantle them again to inspect and overhaul the boiler. We always try to have a range of different sized locos available for service to meet our needs.

Can I see the other locomotives?

Our locomotive collection represents the largest collection of steam engines in the south of the country, and the best collection of locomotives which operated in the area. Most of the locomotives are accessible (when trains are running) in SteamWorks! and the loco shed, or visible from there in the loco yard. Some can be seen elsewhere at Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes.

The locomotive workshops are not generally open, but this only accounts for usually three locos. A few others may be temporarily tucked away in out-of-the-way sidings, but the vast majority of the collection is there for our visitors to see.

Which is Bluebell Railway’s most famous engine?

A difficult question. “Fenchurch” became famous in the late 1950’s and early 60’s as the oldest locomotive running on British Railways, built in 1872. Our other Stroudley Terrier, “Stepney” became famous after the Revd. Awdry wrote a book about him, which also featured “Captain Baxter”. “Stowe” is one of the Southern Railway’s famous Schools class locomotives. SECR P-Class No.323 has become something of a celebrity, after many decades painted in ‘Bluebell Blue’ and carrying the name “Bluebell”. We are also home to the sole survivors of many classes of engines; the only North London Railway loco, the GWR “Dukedog”, LBSCR E4, SECR O1, C and H, Southern Q, the LSWR radial tank, the only surviving named BR Class 5 (No.73082 “Camelot”), and have projects to reconstruct a Brighton Atlantic and BR 2MT tank.

Wagons

Why does the Bluebell Railway need wagons?

Historically goods traffic was actually more important on this line than passenger traffic, so, since we are aiming to preserve the whole railway scene, we have to have goods trucks. We have a large collection of historic wagons, some of which have been restored, and run occasionally on demonstration trains. We also have a significant fleet of slightly more modern wagons which are used in the maintenance of the railway track.

Smoking

What is Bluebell Railway’s policy on smoking?

We have a strict No Smoking policy on all platforms, trains, in buildings etc. This policy extends to electronic cigarettes of any description.

Smoking is permitted outside the front of each station.

Photographs and filming

Do I need permission to take photos and videos?

You may take photos/videos at any of the public areas at the stations. To take photos/videos along the lineside (not all parts of the lineside are accessible) you must obtain a lineside photographic PTS certificate, for which attendance at a Bluebell Personal Track Safety training session is required. You may take photographs for your private collection or the railway press whilst on our stations and in possession of a valid travel or station ticket, or from the lineside if holding a lineside photographic PTS certificate. Commercial photography/videoing/filming is not permitted under these arrangements.

If you wish to use such material commercially, or to arrange for specialised filming facilities to be available, please contact Chris Knibbs, Operations Manager, filming@bluebell-railway.co.uk.

Are there specific restrictions on the use of Drones?

Yes. For the safety of our trains and visitors, drones or similar airborne photographic platforms must not be operated from Bluebell Railway property or within 50m of Bluebell Railway property, except where specific authority is given.

Can I use Bluebell Railway as a filming location?

The Bluebell Railway is the oldest standard gauge preserved passenger railway in the UK, and we pride ourselves on being able to offer the very best experience for production companies.

Our stations are ‘walk on sets’, and have been the backdrop for hundreds of feature films, TV dramas, fashion shoots and music videos for more than 50 years.

We have a dedicated and experienced team to support filming activities, with personnel representing every railway department – filming liaison officers, locomotive crews, guards, shunters, signalmen, station staff, infrastructure and line side staff.  

Our fleet of heritage locomotives, carriages and freight vehicles are available for use and are capable of being disguised to represent almost any nationality or period. For the more discerning producer we can also provide an historical advisory service in all aspects associated with railway operations, equipment and architecture.

All commercial filming requests are handled on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Chris Knibbs, Operations Manager, filming@bluebell-railway.co.uk

Lost Property

How can I claim my lost property?

Please find our lost property policy here.