Railway confirms first guest locos for 50th Anniversary Gala with services out to Robertsbridge

The Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR) has confirmed the identity of the first two guest locomotives for its 50th Anniversary Gala, taking place on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd June 2024, including one special loco returning to its Southeast roots.
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The first guest loco for the K&ESR's 50th Anniversay Gala is a star of the original railway line - South Eastern '01' Class steam locomotive No65 - making an exciting return to the Weald. Not only was '01' built at Ashford but it was frequnetly used on the original Kent & East Sussex Railway line during the 1950s, including the final timetables public service on 2 January 1954 - another milestone to be marked by the railway this year.

The second special guest is British Railways Standard 4 locomotive 76017, which is on long term loan from its private owner and arrived at the K&ESR this week. One of a class of locomotives nicknamed 'Mogul', No76017 was also originally Southern-based, working out of Eastleigh in the 1950s.

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The double news follows last month's announcement that the railway's Gala would include arrangements for passengers to travel to Robertsbridge, via a vintage bus service, to see the progress being made for the planned line extension and a reconnection to the national rail network.

Steam loco '01' will return to its roots at the Gala on 1st and 2nd JuneSteam loco '01' will return to its roots at the Gala on 1st and 2nd June
Steam loco '01' will return to its roots at the Gala on 1st and 2nd June

Their Gala tickets will also enable them to take shuttle rides behind another iconic loco - Britannia - between Robertsbridge Junction and Northbridge Street, which is a stretch of line that has not been in operation since 2013. In a collaboration with the Rother Valley Railway local Robertsbridge residents will also, for the first time, be able to buy tickets for the K&ESR at the station and travel to Tenterden and back.

K&ESR General Manager Robin Coombes said: "We are delighted to have two such iconic locomotives attending our Gala. It is particularly special to have '01' back at the K&ESR where it was a famiiar sight in the 1950s. Our Gala weekend will be an unforgettable experience for railway enthusiasts and families alike with more surprises to come."

Tickets for the Gala are now on sale on the K&ESR website www.kesr.org.uk, with Freedom tickets available for either single days or the full weekend.

Further announcements about additional guest locomotives and other special features are expected in the comings weeks.

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