Friday, 14 October 2011

East Grinstead. 1977

(All 1.8.1977)

East Grinstead will soon have trains to the south again once the Bluebell Railway finally gets through Imberhorne. Back in 1977 the dream of steam returning to East Grinstead would have been an impossible one, which just shows how much progress has been made in the last 34 years!

Of course back in 1977 rail was on the defensive, you couldn't even be sure that East Grinstead would survive, beoing on a dieselised and truncated route. Once East Grinstead had lines to all four points of the compass, by 1977 you could only go north. Soon you'll be able to head south again, and no doubt eventually east and west as well as the Three Bridges to Eridge route returns to the map. The 1967 closure of the route which gave access to Gatwick Airport and Tunbridge Wells was particularly short sighted!

East Grinstead originally had both an upper and lower station - the lower station is the one that survives. Hopefully future developments will allow all trains to use this lower station to make interchange easier.

Once trains start to operate southwards of East Grinstead how long before the pressure builds on the Bluebell to restore the Sheffield Park to Lewes line? This would give the Bluebell a genuine purpose again as well as allow it to tap into tourist traffic from Brighton and Eastbourne. Okay, so today a lot of people visit the line by car or bus, but these options will disappear altogether over the next few decades. And with the Bluebell also owning the Ardingly route they are setting themselves up nicely for THREE eventual Network connections, surely assuring them of a future role in an energy constrained world?

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