Swanage Railway: Official opening for Norden level crossing

Swanage railway Image copyright Andrew PM Wright
Image caption The line links Swanage and Wareham

A level crossing allowing passenger trains to run between a heritage line and the mainline network for the first time in 40 years has been opened.

The £500,000 crossing, near Norden Station, completes the upgrade of the Swanage Railway to link to the main line to Wareham, Dorset.

It was officially opened by High Sheriff of Dorset Sir Philip Williams.

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said it had been a "hugely complex infrastructure project".

The work marks the completion of the 18-month restoration and upgrade of the three miles of former Network Rail line, to within a quarter of a mile of Worgret Junction and the main line to Wareham.

Image copyright Dr Neil Clifton
Image caption The line was closed by British Rail in 1972 following a government review of branch lines

Trial passenger services to reconnect Swanage with the mainline at Wareham are due to start in June next year.

The new level crossing, which complies with Department for Transport standards, features computer-controlled safety systems and full barriers.

It also has a wooden signal box based on the branch line signal box at Lyme Regis station in west Dorset.

The original rail line was closed by British Rail and ripped up in 1972.

The volunteer-led Swanage Railway Trust originally rebuilt a 5.5-mile (8.8km) stretch from Swanage to Norden over 30 years and have been running it as a tourist attraction since the late 1990s.

About 1,500 sleepers have been replaced and an eroding embankment has been repaired during the restoration of the line from Norden to Wareham.

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