The Bluebell Railway has cancelled all planned services from Thursday 5 November to Wednesday 2 December in line with the new national lockdown restrictions.
The railway’s chairman has described the closure of the heritage line for the second time this year as “disappointing news” this will mean a delay to the start of its festive train services which are a popular annual treat for families.
Bluebell Railway chairman Chris Hunford said the safety and wellbeing of its staff, volunteers, members, supporters and customers remained of paramount importance.
He added: “I know this second lockdown will be disappointing news for everyone. It is all the more disappointing because this month would have been the start of our new exciting illuminated train service SteamLights and the first of this season’s Santa Specials.”
The railway had also planned to run trains between 5 November and 2 December for Pie and Mash Lunch, The Blue Belle Luncheon, The Blue Belle Evening Dining and Wealden Rambler Festive Afternoon Tea.
Its customer services team is now contacting all of its affected customers about their bookings. It has updated the information for booked customers on its website at https://www.bluebell-railway.com/news/customer-information-november-lockdown/
There is some good news with dates for the SteamLights service extended to 31 January rather than the previously planned end date of 5 January.
The Bluebell Railway said its well-stocked shop at Sheffield Park station in East Sussex will shut during the lockdown but it will still be operating online with a range of books, gifts, souvenirs, model railway items and Christmas present ideas at https://www.bluebell-railway.com/shop/
Mr Hunford commented: “Although this second lockdown is undoubtedly a setback, I am sure the same spirit and determination which saw us through the first lockdown will prevail once again. We look forward to working together to see the Railway through this period and reopening as soon as we possibly can.”
The Bluebell Railway closed on 20 March and reopened on 7 August to mark its 60th birthday. It has been running steam-hauled trains mostly at weekends since then with some weekday services and dining trains.
It is the first standard gauge preserved passenger railway in the UK having opened in August 1960.