£1.47m gives Swanage Railway link new lease of life

Dorset Echo: HERITAGE: 1960s rail bus at Corfe Castle Picture: Andrew PM Wright HERITAGE: 1960s rail bus at Corfe Castle Picture: Andrew PM Wright

VOLUNTEERS at Swanage Railway are elated after scooping a £1.47 million Govern-ment grant to re-introduce a regular train service in Purbeck.

The cash boost puts them on track to complete the link from Swanage and Corfe Castle to the main line at Wareham – a long-held ambition since British Rail axed the service back in 1972.

The grant from the Coastal Communities Fund will give an important transport, tourism and employment boost to Purbeck – creating about 10 direct jobs and another 40 indirect jobs in the area.

It was announced by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State at the Department of Comm-unities and Local Govern-ment, during a visit to Ramsgate in Kent today.

The £1.47million grant has been awarded to the volunteer-run Swanage Railway Company – 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.

Swanage Railway Company chairman Peter Sills, who rode on the last British Rail train from Swanage to Wareham in January 1972 as a teenager, said they were delighted.

“We are elated at this tremendous and very historic news because the Swanage Railway has been campaigning to bring back regular trains from Swanage and Corfe Castle to Wareham since 1972 when British Rail controversially axed the service.

“We are working closely with Network Rail and Dorset County Council to ensure that land access and lease arrangements of the three mile line between Motala and Worgret Junction required by the Coastal Communities Fund grant are put in place as soon as possible.”

He added: “I would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who has contributed towards reaching this milestone in the history of the Swanage Railway.”

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.

The £1.47 million grant will also pay for the upgrading of two 1960s heritage diesel rail bus trains to main line running standards.

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