ELATED Swanage Railway volunteers are celebrating after winning a £1.47 million Government grant to re-introduce a regular train service from Swanage and Corfe Castle to the main line at Wareham – a long-held ambition since British Rail controversially axed the service back in 1972.
The historic grant from the Coastal Communities Fund is being announced today by Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government.
The grant has been awarded to the volunteer-run Swanage Railway Company – which is owned and controlled by the volunteer-run Swanage Railway Trust charity – with the first regular trains running between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage by the spring of 2015.
As well as improving access by train to the heart of Purbeck for tourists – and improving rail links out of Purbeck to Poole and Bournemouth for residents – it is estimated that a restored train service between Swanage, Corfe Castle and Wareham will create 40 new jobs indirectly and ten new jobs directly.
The grant money will pay for the upgrading of track and bridges on the Network Rail three mile single line from Worgret Junction, on the London to Weymouth main line, to the Swanage Railway at Motala just east Furzebrook. The three mile line is currently used by occasional excursion trains to Corfe Castle and Swanage from various parts of the country.
It will also pay for the upgrading of two 1960s heritage diesel rail bus trains to main line running standards as well as funding the acquisition of legal permissions required before regular trains can run into Wareham from Corfe Castle and Swanage.
A trial rail service between Swanage, Corfe Castle and Wareham is planned for 50 days in 2015 and 90 days in 2016 with the eventual target being an all-year amenity train service after that.
The grant bid to the Coastal Communities Fund was supported by the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership composed of Purbeck District Council, Dorset County Council, Poole Borough Council, Network Rail, South West Trains, the Swanage and Purbeck Hospitality Association and Perenco which runs the Wytch Farm oil field north of Corfe Castle.
Funded by a transport infrastructure improvement tax levied on property developers in the Purbeck area, the £3.2 million local council funding has paid for a new track point at Worgret Junction – installed by Network Rail during December, 2012 – which is required before regular passenger trains can run into Wareham from Corfe Castle and Swanage.
The £3.2 million has also contributed towards track improvements by Network Rail at Wareham station to accommodate regular trains from Corfe Castle and Swanage.
British Petroleum and Perenco is also paying for a £500,000 level crossing across the Wytch Farm oil field and Norden Park & Ride access road just north of Corfe Castle so that regular trains can run from Swanage and Corfe Castle to the main line at Wareham.