Reopening 20 May - FAQs

When is the Bluebell Railway reopening? 

We have provisionally set Thursday 20 May for the resumption of public train services. 

Why have you chosen that date? 

We have read all the guidance from the Government and other official organisations on the route out of lockdown and believe we can reopen safely on that date. The current Government timetable sets Monday 17 May as the earliest date for Step 3 of the lifting of restrictions on gatherings and business activities. It gives us enough time to make all the necessary preparations for welcoming visitors back safely to the Bluebell Railway and means we will be open in time for the May half-term holiday.  

When will tickets go on sale? 

Tickets will go on sale at 11am on Wednesday 31 March. We will initially release tickets for the first few weeks of services and will continue to release tickets in blocks of several weeks at a time. All tickets will have to be pre-booked online before the day of travel. We will not be selling tickets on the day from our booking offices.  

You will be able to book tickets here.

What tickets will I be able to buy? 

Tickets will be sold per compartment for The Pioneer service and per table for dining services.

Initially our trains on The Pioneer service will use carriages with compartments rather than open carriages. This will ensure passengers can maintain social distancing by sticking together as a family, group or household.  

We will be selling tickets for an entire compartment rather than individual seats. We believe this will provide passengers with the necessary reassurance that they are able to travel safely on our services.  

We hope to be able to provide open carriages with more individual and smaller group bookings later in the year but it depends on the Government lifting all limits on social contact under Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown which is currently scheduled to be no earlier than 21 June. 

How many people can travel in a compartment? 

Travel in our compartments on our trains is classified as an indoor activity. That means that when we initially reopen, there will be limits under the Government’s plans on the numbers who can gather. The Government has said Step 3 will limit numbers to the Rule of Six or no more than two households – this is subject to review. 

Where can I see the timetables?

Please visit our timetables and calendar page for the latest services.

How much will tickets cost?

Please visit our Fares page for information about pricing.

Will there be discounts for BRPS members?

We have reinstated all members’ discounts for 2021 and we are planning members’ trains throughout the year. Information about these trains and how to book will be available in due course.

Will there be discounts for carers?

Tickets for The Pioneer will be sold per compartment, and not per individual passenger. As a result, carers’ discounts will not be available on this service. Please keep an eye on our website for further updates regarding services and tickets.

Will you be starting services from East Grinstead?

We will not be starting services from East Grinstead to begin with, but some services from Sheffield Park will be travelling the entire line to East Grinstead. Passengers will be able to alight the train and watch the turnaround, before reboarding the train back to Sheffield Park.

Can dogs travel and do they need their own ticket?

Dogs are welcome to travel on The Pioneer service and they will not need an individual ticket to travel.

What steps are you taking to ensure cleanliness at the Bluebell Railway? 

We will adopt the same Covid-19 safety measures as we took last year when we were able to run services. 

There will be enhanced cleaning so that all the trains are cleaned ready for use. We will pay particular attention to door handles and other parts which people might touch. 

There will also be regular inspections and cleaning of our toiletand would encourage all visitors to follow the guidance on handwashing and to take personal hygiene measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

Hand sanitisers are on the platforms at every station and in other public areas.  

What should I do if anyone in my group shows any Covid symptoms?  

If you or anyone in your household or group shows Covid symptoms (a new, continuous cough, high temperature or loss of taste/smell) or has tested positive for coronavirus, you  should not come to the Railway. Please follow Government guidelines on self-isolation. 

What preparations are you carrying out? 

More staff will be brought back ahead of the reopening. They will ensure the railway is fully operational and safe for visitors. 

We will continue to follow Government guidelines on the easing of lockdown and the reopening of businesses. 

Will I need to wear a face covering?

Unless exempt, face coverings must be worn in public areas including when boarding and alighting the trains, on the platforms and in the Museum. Face coverings can be removed once seated on dining services.

Will the Museum at Sheffield Park be open?

The Museum will open with the same Covid restrictions we put in place last year. All handling items, and dressing up clothes will be taken into store, and a one-way system will operate as before. Stewards and visitors will be asked to wear a face covering when in the Museum.
Unfortunately, due to confined space the Withyham signal box will be closed to visitors until the present Covid restrictions are lifted.

What other facilities will be open?

Please check Today at the Railway for information regarding the opening times for individual facilities.

Are these plans confirmed? 

All of the above remains provisional and depends on Government advice and guidance. We will continue to monitor Government and other announcements and respond accordingly. Please check our website for updates and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

How long has the Bluebell Railway been closed? 

The railway last ran public trains on 24 December 2020 ahead of Sussex moving into Tier 4 on 26 December and the national lockdown in January. 

What safety steps will be taken before reopening? 

We will inspect the track, ensure all our trains are fit to run and confirm that our signalling apparatus is functioning correctly.  

We will also run some test trains (known as “ghost trains”) without passengers to refamiliarise our staff with their duties and ensure the services are safe for the public.  

Although the railway is currently closed to visitors, we are still at work and we are running engineering trains and carrying out maintenance work on the line. Railway tracks are dangerous places and so the public should stay away from our stations and land apart from public access areas and designated footpaths. 

What do I do if I have an expired gift voucher?

Gift vouchers purchased before August 2020 have been automatically extended to 31 December 2021.