Swanage-Wareham rail line reconnection trials face delay

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Media captionThe first trial service departed Swanage on 13 June last year

Further trials of regular passenger train services between the mainline and a Dorset seaside resort after 45 years have been delayed.

The original line from Swanage to Wareham was closed by British Rail and ripped up in seven weeks, in 1972.

Last summer, Swanage Railway's first timetabled trains ran along the full 10-mile route as part of a trial.

However, due to a delay in a revamp of its trains the next trials will miss this year's peak summer season.

Image caption Swanage Railway staff marked the first historic journey from Swanage to Wareham for 45 years last summer

Volunteers rebuilt the 5.5-mile (8.8km) stretch from Swanage to Norden over 30 years and have been running it as a tourist attraction since the 1990s.

After work was completed on the section of the track from Norden to Wareham to connect it to the mainline, a trial service began last June and ran for 60 days.

However, the railway's own diesel trains, which started undergoing upgrade works in 2014, were not ready in time and West Coast Railways rolling stock was brought in.

Image copyright Andrew PM Wright
Image caption Swanage Railway ran its first diesel train over a few hundred yards of track in 1979
Image copyright Swanage Railway
Image caption The passenger train trials saw Swanage Railway join to the mainline at Wareham

Now, the heritage units for the line will also not be ready this summer for the intended 90-day trial period. It is now hoped the trials can resume in September.

The firm said a full second year of the trial is set to start during Easter next year.

Mark Woolley, of Swanage Railway, said: "The trial is not just about getting the maximum income at the busiest time of the year.

"We are committed to running our trains when we can. We want a sustainable long-term development of a service."

Image copyright Swanage Railway
Image caption Steam trains ran on the Swanage branch line up until the mid 1960s

Swanage Railway history

Image copyright Andrew PM Wright
  • 1979 - Swanage Railway runs its first diesel train over a few hundred yards of track
  • 1980 - First Swanage Railway steam train runs
  • 1995 - Passenger trains run between Swanage and Norden, via Corfe Castle
  • 2002 - Swanage Railway's tracks meets the national railway system at Motala
  • 2014 - New signalling system between Swanage Railway and Network Rail commissioned
  • 2016 - Norden Gates level crossing officially opens
  • 2017 - Reconnects to the mainline

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