A TRAIN driver got a special send off after 51 years on the tracks.

Charlie Arnold, 69, was given a special send-off by Brighton colleagues after 51 years in the cab.

Charlie has no idea how many thousands of miles he must have driven during his careers as one of Britain’s longest serving train drivers

A surprise, special announcement was put up at Brighton station to thank Charlie for his outstanding service.

His achievement was recognised on the station’s announcement boards to the delight of his colleagues and passengers.

He started his career on the platform at Brighton, lighting the oil-filled lamps on the trains at the age of 15.

He then moved to Hassocks station before becoming a box boy at Keymer Junction, which involved keeping a log of the trains passing through.

Shortly before he turned 18, Charlie returned to Brighton, where he worked as a driver’s assistant, also known as a second man, until he was 23.

In 1980, he landed a driver’s job at Redhill and was based there for 11 months before returning once again to Brighton, where he was based for the rest of his driving career.

Charlie, who lived in Brighton until 2000 and now lives in Lancing, said: “It’s like a family when you work in the rail industry.

“People get to know you. It was amazing how many people came up to me to shake my hand during my send-off.

“I was quite surprised to see my name on the board. They also made an announcement and staff all clapped.”

Charlie’s last day in the cab saw him drive from Brighton to Barnham and Southampton and back.

Charlie said: “I have no idea how many miles I have covered over the years – millions I expect.”

Brighton depot driver line manager Neil Wyatt said: “For the short time I have managed Charlie, he has been an absolute pleasure to work with. He would come in every day with a positive attitude and he was a great representative of the company, as well as a great example to others. I have a great deal of respect for him and I hope he enjoys his retirement immensely as he deserves it and he will be missed.”

Britain’s longest serving train driver was Dave Knowling, from Devon, who passed away after 63 years of service in 2017

He retired in 2004 but drove once a week until his death.