Driver retires after 51 years in the cab

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A 69-year-old man who is believed to be one of Britain’s longest-serving train drivers was given a special send-off by colleagues at Brighton station on November 21.

Charlie Arnold was touched when his Southern colleagues made a surprise announcement and put up a notice to thank him for his outstanding service.

Charlie joined the railway aged 15 to work on the platform changing the oil-filled tail lamps of trains.

He briefly worked at 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 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.

His last day driving a Southern train was November 20, when he went from Brighton to Barnham and Southampton and back.

Charlie 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.”

Brighton depot driver line manager Neil Wyatt added: “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.”

As well as a special send-off at Brighton station on November 21, Charlie also received a long-service award from parent company Govia Thameslink Railway.