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Rail services in Weymouth on the right track as a tourism draw
WEYMOUTH is welcoming a range of special day-trip rail excursions this summer providing an extra boost for the economy.
One has been laid on tomorrow to bring visitors to the Dorset Seafood Festival.
It comes as talks continue about possibly siting a turntable near Weymouth station so visiting steam engines can turn around, reducing costs for railtour operators.
Network Rail says a proposal has been put forward by West Coast Railways for land currently occupied by the line which branches off to form the disused quayside tramway branch.
Putting it there would effectively close off the branch so this needs to be considered in discussions.
Meanwhile, Weymouth station was brimming with activity last weekend as the resort welcomed a steam special from West Sussex hauled by ‘Black 5 No 44932’, plus a selection of luxurious coaches hauled by diesel locomotives in a separate excursion from Cheshire.
They were seen alongside an eight-carriage High Speed Train (HST), which First Great Western runs as an additional Saturday service in the summer to cope with additional demand on the Bristol line.
Between them, the three trains last Saturday brought more than 1,000 passengers.
Meanwhile, the Railway Touring Company began its weekly ‘Dorset Coast Express’ steam trains from London to Weymouth on Wednesday that will run throughout July and August.
Weekly Sunday steam from Bristol begins on July 27.
This is the fourth consecutive summer the Railway Touring Company has organised its tours. Other specials are in the timetable, including a Class 159 diesel unit from London on Saturday which will bring day-trippers to Weymouth for five hours before returning to the capital via Westbury and Salisbury.
UK Railtours’ ‘Long Wey Round’ train has been organised to coincide with the seafood festival.
Weymouth has long been a favourite of excursion operators but this summer looks set to be the busiest ever.
Borough council spokesman for leisure and tourism Rachel Rogers, pictured above, said: “It’s fantastic that companies are laying on these trains.
“They bring people into town and boost the economy, and give people the opportunity to see what great attractions we have.”