A social media star trainspotter said he "shed a tear" over a railway company retiring one of the country's oldest trains.

Tiktok sensation Francis Bourgeois, real name Luke Nicolson, visited Sussex yesterday to send off the Southern class 313 trains which are being removed from service in May.

The internet personality, famed for his wide-angle trainspotting videos which have gained him millions of followers, said the trains were a "big part" of his life.

The Argus: The route took enthusiasts across SussexThe route took enthusiasts across Sussex (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Francis joined hundreds of other train enthusiasts on board the Sussex Rambler charity rail tour, organised by the Branch Line Society and Govia Thameslink Railway, which commemorated the 47-year service of the electric units.

He said: "It's a sad day for me. The 313s were the first train I ever rode on and they mean the most to me in my heart.

"Usually with rail tours I am happy and excited but with this one I have already shed a tear this morning about it.

"In my mind though this is not the end. I really hope we will see one of these in preservation."

The Argus: Francis onboard the trainFrancis onboard the train (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

The enthusiast predicts an "interesting" few years ahead for heritage railways as more electric trains come out of mainline operation.

"There isn't really a place for them to go where there is juice [electricity], so we might be looking at a time where we can see heritage electric multiple units actually running," he said.

"Seeing how many people have come out today and also how much these trains mean to people shows this. Every seat is full.

"You just don't get these glorious compressor sounds and traction motor noises anywhere else." 

The Argus: Hundreds of fans lined the trackside to watch the rail tourHundreds of fans lined the trackside to watch the rail tour (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Francis, 22, who lives in London, filmed a video along the route for his 2.9 million Tiktok followers. He said: "I am keen to show how much trains mean to me emotionally in this video.

"I normally show myself when I am happy with trains but I am also keen to show the life cycle of a train in this video as well.

"I've seen a lot of new and familiar faces. You can see there a big difference in age groups, from people like me who have had them in their lives for ever to those who have seen them come and go"

The Argus: Francis pointing to the badgeFrancis pointing to the badge (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Francis wore a pin badge to mark the historic day. He said: "I met a chap at Brighton Station called Charlie and I asked where he got the badge from. 

"He just gave it to me as he had two so I'm making sure to give him a special shout out."

The Southern class 313 trains are set to be replaced by more modern class 377 and 387 "Electrostar" units when the new timetable is introduced on May 21.

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Francis has plans to secure the future of one of the most eye catching trains in Southern's fleet, 313 201. The train was repainted blue and grey in 2017 to resemble the historic British Rail colours.

He said: "I'm speaking to people about options to preserve this.

"If Southern can keep it tucked away in a depot, for everyone, that would be great."