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A charity train chartered by Thameslink for rail enthusiasts has raised £9,000 for three very worthwhile causes.
The Royal Marsden Hospital, Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospital and childhood illness support organisation Max Appeal were each given £3,000 at a ceremony organised by Thameslink timetable planner Matthew Dodd, 28, who dreamed up the trip after members of his family were treated at the hospitals.
Matthew, of Knebworth, said: “The trip was a huge success with 170 paying passengers on board, which has made a lot of money for three very worthwhile causes.”
The ‘Thameslink Tracker’ trip between Bedford and Blackfriars in a Class 319 train took in among other places Bedford Cauldwell Depot, Bedford Jowett Sidings, Luton Crescent Road and Herne Hill Sidings – which were sought-after spots for rail enthusiasts.
Chris Green, renowned among rail enthusiasts as the man who launched Network SouthEast to unify London suburban rail services, joined the trip and helped raise money by signing brochures for as much as £5 each!
And a raffle, featuring prizes including a VIP ride on Thameslink’s train simulator, raised a further £1,000 while the privilege of riding back in the cab was ‘sold’ for £319 (in honour of the Class 319 train they were in).
Matthew organised the event with the help of the railway enthusiasts’ Branch Line Society, Network Rail and other colleagues, including driver manager Andrew Murdin, drivers Martin Barter and Adrian Hewitt and on-board services manager Colin Latimer.
The rationale for choosing the three charities was that The Royal Marsden is on Thameslink’s Wimbledon/Sutton rail route and treated Matthew's father-in-law for cancer; Matthew’s brother has had two open heart operations at Harefield Hospital; and Max Appeal helps children with the genetic condition '22QDS', such as nine-year-old Adam Tripp, son of Great Northern driver Mark Tripp.
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‘Thameslink Tracker’: Thameslink timetable planner Matthew Dodd (far right) and the team, including Chris Green (second from left) who helped run a rail enthusiasts’ train trip that raised £9,000 for charity
‘Thameslink Tracker cheque’: (from left) Thameslink timetable planner Matthew Dodd, Ashley Westpfel of The Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospital, Rachel Williamson of the Royal Marsden Hospital, Mark Tripp and Claire Hennessey of Max Appeal and Charles Horton, Chief Executive of Govia Thameslink Railway which operates Thameslink trains
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Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) began running Thameslink (Bedford to Brighton, Sutton and Wimbledon) and Great Northern (London to Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn) rail services on 14 September 2014. A small number of services and stations previously operated by Southeastern transferred to GTR in December 2014 and on 26 July 2015 the Southern and Gatwick Express routes were incorporated into the franchise. GTR is now the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff: GTR carries about 273 million passenger journeys per year, employs around 6,500 people and generates annual passenger revenues of approximately £1.3bn. www.thameslinkrailway.com