Hundreds of rail enthusiasts said a fond farewell to the trains which have run on Sussex routes for the last 13 years.

A special ‘Farewell Tour’ for the Class 313 units was organised by the Branch Line Society and Southern.

As previously reported, all the Class 313 trains will be withdrawn from service later this month to be replaced by more modern rolling stock.

The special tour on Saturday 29 April took passengers on a 249-mile journey from Brighton back to Brighton via Portsmouth in the west, Three Bridges in the north and Ore in the east.

Photographers lined parts of the route and waited at stations to see the charter train – comprising units 313201 and 313213 – travel along the network.

The 313s are the oldest trains on the national rail network and first entered service in 1976. Southern have used them on the Sussex routes since 2010.

Chris Fowler, network operations director at Southern, said: “We are getting rid of the 313s and replacing them with Electrostars so that people get toilets and air-conditioning on these routes. They’ll be going in a couple of weeks’ time and we wanted to see them off in style, to commemorate the amount of service that they have given to this part of the country and to give people a good day out and to raise a lot of money for charity.”

A charity raffle was held to raise funds for the Railway Children and Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice care.

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.”

Southern is replacing all its Class 313s with Electrostar trains on the following routes: Brighton to Seaford; Brighton to Lewes; Brighton to Portsmouth; Littlehampton to Bognor Regis and Littlehampton to Portsmouth & Southsea.

The changes will take place with the new timetable coming into effect on Sunday 21 May.

Southern said: “We are pleased to be phasing out our oldest trains so we can provide a consistent, more attractive and updated offer to customers, supporting more people on their travels along our coastway routes.”

Photo: the oldest 313 unit still in service – 313201 – with a special headboard “313 Farewell 1976-2023” at Littlehampton station. Credit: Paul Bromley, Southeast Communities Rail Partnership.



Train waiting on platform at Littlehampton station. Headboard shows "313 Farewell 1976-2023"