Francis Bourgeois joins farewell tour to one of UK’s oldest trains

TikTok star Francis Bourgeois was among the train enthusiasts who joined a departure tour for one of the country's oldest trains from Southern's fleet.

On Saturday (May 1), hundreds of rail enthusiasts joined Southern Rail for a special charity tour in one of the coastal Class 313 trains that will be retired from service on May 20.

The Branch Line Society helped to organise the trip from Brighton via Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Three Bridges, Ore and Newhaven.

More than 310 tickets were sold and – alongside the raffle and on-board auction – an estimated £25,000 was raised for Sussex children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House and Railway Children – a charity for at-risk youngsters.

The 47-year-old Class 313s are the country’s oldest mainline electric trains. Southern is replacing them with modern, air-conditioned 21st century Electrostar trains. These are three times more reliable and will transform passenger travel along the coast between Portsmouth, Brighton and Lewes.

Tour organiser and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) duty network operations manager Antony Yandell said: “The 313s have been operating for over five decades, helping people to get around and building special memories for train crew, passengers, and customers.

“Over the past six years, GTR has arranged other farewell tours to mark the withdrawal of our older fleets and with this latest tour now complete, we have raised £75,000 for charity. Arranging these tours takes a lot of work and I want to say a huge thanks to everyone who has played a part.”

Ella Pilkington at Chestnut Tree House said: “There are hundreds of children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions in our local community who require specialist care, and even more parents and family members who need help and support.

“It is thanks to the kindness and generosity of individuals and companies like Southern and its parent company Govia Thameslink Railway that Chestnut Tree House can be there for each family on their journey – now and in the future. On behalf of everyone at Chestnut Tree House, I’d like to say a huge thank you for your support.”

Also along for the ride was rail enthusiast TikTok and Instagram sensation Francis Bourgeois who has more than 3.5 million followers.

Related topics: