A special commemorative train has been launched by Southern Railway to remember railway workers’ wartime service.
The poppy-themed train entered service today (Tuesday November 5) as part of the rail company’s support for The Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal.
Southern’s owner, Govia Thameslink Railway, has also donated £10,000 to the Royal British Legion towards its support for military veterans.
Train number 377101 was launched by Southern and Gatwick Express managing director, Angie Doll, from Southern’s Selhurst depot.
Steve White, GTR chief operating officer, said: “It is important for us to pay our respects to the men and women who contributed to the war effort. The railway played a key role in delivering supplies and munitions, with hundreds and thousands of men and women across the country working tirelessly to keep the rail network moving. This poppy train will serve as a poignant reminder of their sacrifice and the donation will help the Royal British Legion continue their vital support for Armed Forces personnel.”
The £10,000 donation was marked with a cheque presented by Mr White to the Royal British Legion’s head of corporate partnerships, Ben France, at Blackfriars railway station, supported by Lee Paine, Southern service engineer who joined from the British Army, and Steve Copley, Southern driver instructor.
Mr France said: “We’d like to thank Govia Thameslink for choosing to make this generous donation to The Royal British Legion. Without your kindness, we would not be able to provide vital support to the Armed Forces community, and remember their service and sacrifice.”
The organisation supports serving and former personnel and their families throughout their lives, providing advice and guidance, as well as recovery and rehabilitation, through to transitioning to civilian life after leaving active service.
More than 19,000 railway workers from Great Britain and Ireland lost their lives in the First World War, with the historic London Brighton & South Coast Railway – operating on the Brighton Main Line of today – seeing more than five and a half thousand men leave to join the war. More than 500 did not return. The organisation further supported the war effort by transporting 30,000 soldiers and around seven million tonnes of the British Army’s munitions to the continent.
GTR is also offering free travel with Southern, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern for members of the Armed Forces, veterans and cadets on Remembrance Sunday.
The donation and poppy train follows the operator’s sponsorship of the Royal British Legion silent soldier ‘Thank You Silhouettes’ installed across 22 stations last year.