A volunteer-run heritage railway has been awarded £50,000 to look at reinstating services to the mainline.
Swanage Railway in Dorset is to conduct a fresh feasibility study in the hope of running regular connecting trains.
The line from Swanage to Wareham was ripped up in 1972 and volunteers spent decades reinstating it.
The Department for Transport grant will be used to produce a business case for a regular passenger service between Swanage and Wareham.
A similar feasibility study was previously carried out in 2008, before the heritage line was reconnected to the mainline near Worgret Junction, south of Wareham.
Since then, special services have run on the connected route, in addition to the trains that operate on the heritage line to Swanage, Norden, Corfe Castle, Harmans Cross and Herston Halt.
Swanage Railway chairman and volunteer signalman Gavin Johns said: "The grant will pay for a fully updated feasibility study and, we hope, a positive business case for a passenger train service between Swanage and Wareham once the Coronavirus pandemic is over."
Swanage Railway Project Wareham director Mark Woolley said: "We hope that the outcome of the feasibility study and business case work will provide us with an updated way ahead on how to operate a sustainable train service to Wareham."
The railway previously said it had been left "on a knife edge" because of the coronavirus crisis and launched an emergency appeal to help it survive.