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Bluebell Railway project leader's tireless work makes him Local Hero
10:00am Saturday 21st September 2013 in News
The dedication of this week’s Local Hero winner has propelled the Bluebell Railway back on track for success.
The once neglected railway line finally rejoined the national rail route at East Grinstead earlier this year, giving old and new generations to come another chance to taste the delights of one of Britain’s most famous railways.
The work to restore the line between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead took nearly 40 years to complete.
But one man in particular has, over the last decade, proved instrumental in spearheading the project.
Chris White was the project leader and infrastructure director for the ambitious locomotive dream – and he’s this week’s Local Hero winner.
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According to his colleagues, Chris proved instrumental in the resurgence of the new route and dedicated many hours and years of his life to the idea.
Whether it was sifting through mountains of legal paperwork or leading a team of contractors to help re-generate the line, his ten year effort proved invaluable.
“Those close to the project will know that there were many, many hours given to planning, execution, and delivery, as well as lots of work to get through the mire of the legislative paperwork,” said Roy Watts, chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society.
“But no one knows this more than Chris White, who probably devoted more time to the project than we appreciate,” he added.
But most impressive of all, like others on the team, Chris committed a decade of work as an unpaid volunteer.
Chris, who’s been nominated for the Engineer of the Year award at the prestigious Rail Staff Awards, said: “My work involved finding funding – a full £4 million worth – plus hours of legislative paperwork and leading a team of contractors and volunteers to see the project through.
“We made it and it’s a really good feeling seeing our hard work manifest to this resurged line.“My partner is pleased I can enjoy the fruits of my labour driving the trains – instead of battling sleepless nights thinking about it.”
Chris will find out whether he’s crowned Engineer of the Year at the Rail Staff Awaards in Birmingham on October 5.
John Walls, chairman of publications and communications at the Bluebell Railway, added: “I can do no more what Roy has already said, except to emphasise the astounding amount of paperwork that had to be done, in addition to managing all major aspects of the project, and acting in his day job as a consultant rail engineer for Atkins. It’s truly a heroic effort.
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