Purbeck Community Rail Partnership

Heritage line gets a new lease of life
Heritage line gets a new lease of life
Andrew P M Wright

Filling the gap between a heritage steam railway and the mainline network by bringing back regular services

In 1972, railway services between Swanage and Wareham stopped. Since just before the turn of the millenium, the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership has been working to re-establish regular passenger services. There is already the Swanage Railway, a heritage line operating along part of the route, which provides a park & ride service that enables people to visit Corfe Castle and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site without snarling up the local roads. Providing regular services from the main line would, however, help visitors come all the way by train as well as providing more transport choices for local people.

The Partnership has already helped relay the track between the heritage line and the main line but the signals needed to be upgraded to to allow trains to proceed to reach the station at Wareham. After commissioning a study on signalling, Dorset County Council is providing £3 million for the cost of signals as part of a larger upgrade that Network Rail is carraying out between Poole and Wool. If the works were not done at the same time, the cost would have been prohibitive. Through improving the signalling the maximum permitted speed can increase from 25 mph (the usual maximum on a heritage line) to 40 mph, helping ensure it can be competitive to car travel for everyday travel as well as those who want to step back in time. Funding has also been received from BP, who operated an oil refinery in the area, and a Government fund for coastal communities.

In 2013 the first through train ran along the line and it is hoped that a limited service can start operating in 2015/6.

More information:

Purbeck Community Rail Partnership

Swanage Railway

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