A long-serving Lancing train driver has been given a special send-off after more than five decades on the rails.
Charlie Arnold, 69, called time on a 54-year career that started with replacing oil-filled train lamps at Brighton Railway Station when he was 15 years old.
The grandfather’s Southern colleagues marked his retirement with a special announcement at Brighton station and put up a notice to thank him for his service, accompanied by a round of applause.
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. They also made an announcement and staff all clapped.”
The message on the departures board read ‘Charlie Arnold is retiring after 51 years’ outstanding service as a driver. We want to say thank you for all your hard work and all the best for the future. We will miss you’.
After starting his career in Brighton, Charlie 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 turning 18, Charlie returned to Brighton as a driver’s assistant, also known as a second man, until he was 23.
In 1980 he made the step up to a driver at Redhill and was based there for 11 months, before returning to Brighton where he would see out the remainder of his career.
His final day driving a Southern train was last Wednesday, when he travelled from Brighton to Barnham and Southampton and back.
He said he had ‘no idea’ how many miles he had covered over the years, but suspected the total stretched into the millions.
The final send-off came a day later, on Thursday, where he was also presented with a long-service award from Govia Thameslink Railway.
The Brighton depot driver line manager, Neil Wyatt, paid tribute to his veteran colleague.
“For the short time I have managed Charlie, he has been an absolute pleasure to work with,” he said.
“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.”
Southern services cover London to Sussex trips, plus Surrey, Kent and Hampshire.