Tracker trip for rail enthusiasts raises thousands for hospitals

Thameslink Tracker chartered charity trip leaves Bedford.
Thameslink Tracker chartered charity trip leaves Bedford.
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A charity train chartered by Thameslink for rail enthusiasts has raised £9,000 for three causes.

The Royal Marsden Hospital, Royal Brompton and 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.

Thameslink Tracker cheque presentation with Matthew Dodd, left.

Thameslink Tracker cheque presentation with Matthew Dodd, left.

Matthew 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!

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.