Dorset

Corfe Castle back on rail network after 46 years

Diesel train at Corfe Castle Image copyright Andrew PM Wright
Image caption Corfe Castle lost network trains when its branch line closed

Network trains are to run to a Dorset village for the first time since 1972.

South Western Railway said a Saturday service to Corfe Castle will run from Basingstoke from this weekend until 8 September.

The village lost network trains when the Swanage to Wareham line was closed by British Rail.

Part of the line was reopened by volunteers as a tourist attraction in the 1990s, and it was reconnected to Wareham in 2017.

Image copyright Andrew PM Wright
Image caption Swanage Railway has been operating the line as a tourist attraction

Swanage Railway, which operates the line, began a 60-day trial service in June 2017, allowing passengers to connect with mainline trains at Wareham.

But further trials have been postponed because heritage rolling stock for the line is not ready.

South Western Railway said it hoped both companies' trial services would continue in the future.

Head of service strategy Chris Loder said: "This partnership will help to encourage visitors from all over the UK to visit Corfe Castle and Swanage."

Image copyright Swanage Railway
Image caption The heritage line was reconnected to the main rail network at Wareham in 2017

A morning train will run from Basingstoke, via Salisbury, Yeovil, Weymouth and Wareham.

It will return to Basingstoke on Saturday afternoons, except this weekend when it will stop at Salisbury.

The original line from Swanage to Wareham was ripped up in seven weeks in 1972 after being closed.

Volunteers rebuilt the 5.5-mile (8.8km) stretch from Swanage to Norden over 30 years and have been running regular steam and diesel trains on the line.

Swanage Railway history

Image copyright Dr Neil Clifton
Image caption The Swanage to Wareham line was closed in 1972
  • 1885 - Ten-mile branch line from Wareham to Swanage opens
  • 1969 - End of through trains beyond Wareham
  • 1972 - British Rail closes the line and rips it up
  • 1976 - Volunteers start re-laying track at Swanage Station
  • 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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