A PROJECT to run trains from the preserved Swanage Railway to the main line at Wareham is on track to begin next year.

Work is progressing on running a trial train service along the branch to connect with the South West Trains’ network.

The Swanage line was pulled up in the 1970s but has been relaid by volunteers who now run a successful steam railway service. Last year it carried more than 210,000 passengers.

Thanks to a £1.47million Coastal Communities Govern-ment grant, a trial train service from Swanage and Corfe Castle to the main line at Wareham is due to begin in September, 2015, and it will then operate on 140 selected days over a period of two years.

Experienced project manager Frank Roberts, who volunteers on the railway, has now started work on the scheme.

Mr Roberts, who used to work for South West Trains managing stations and as a route controller said: “I am immensely proud that I have the opportunity to build a team to deliver an historic and pioneering two-year trial train service from Swanage and Corfe Castle to the main line at Wareham.

“I hope that I can use three decades of experience to ensure that the dream of rebuilding the Swanage Railway to Wareham that will make those two generations of people who have gone before us very proud indeed.

“There is a very heavy workload to get through.

“This includes some three miles of substantial track upgrade work, the construction of a level crossing at Norden and the refurbishment of two diesel multiple unit trains to main line standards.”

As a volunteer, Mr Roberts spent 22 years building and developing the heritage railway’s lineside telecommunications system for signalling systems and telephones.

He added: “The historic project to re-instate a train service to Wareham is really accelerating and while there is a lot of work to do, the implementation of many years of challenging planning is about to pay dividends.”

Swanage Railway Company chairman Peter Sills said: “As well as improving access to the heart of Purbeck for tourists – and improving rail links out of Purbeck for residents – it’s estimated that a restored train service between Swanage, Corfe Castle and Wareham will create 40 new jobs indirectly and ten new jobs directly.

“Connecting with the South West Trains service between London and Weymouth at Wareham, the re-connected rail link will become much easier for people to use public transport and so improve employment opportunities for Purbeck residents and increase the number of tourists.”