A CAMPAIGN started by a 14-year-old boy to get the Weymouth Harbour Tramway back on track has gained support from thousands of people thanks to social media.

Railway enthusiast and IPACA student James Newall set up a campaign to get the tramway running once again after helping to create a railway history DVD.

The tramway opened in 1865 and provided a direct link from the railway station to the quay to serve the Channel Island ferries.

Harbourside lines exist elsewhere in Britain but Weymouth was the only place where full-length mainline trains proceeded down a main road.

Regular train services ceased in the 1980s but James’ campaign marks the latest proposal to turn the line into a tourist attraction, with tram services operating on the line.

In the past, the tramway lines along Custom House Quay have been blamed for causing multiple accidents involving bicycles and motorbikes – and a horrific crash involving a police car.

James said: “I have looked into the issues with traffic, pollution and cost and despite these concerns the tramway would be a boost to tourism and Weymouth in general.

“The campaign has received support from so many people in the community and I have been shocked with the positive response.”

A Facebook page and petition was also started by James four weeks ago and has attracted more than 1,500 signatures while also gaining the backing of community figures.

James said once the campaign gathers wider support he hopes to take his idea to Network Rail and Dorset County Council.

He added: “The line could be almost the complete route that it was when it was last used.

“The tramway train could consist of one tank engine, three wagons and one brake van and the railway could run March until October.

“Around 10 trains could run each way a day, stopping at each station for 15 minutes.”

He said other heritage railways could loan out engines and rolling stock for the tramway and when money is built up, a steam locomotive could even be purchased for the line.

Dorset County Council, which has responsibility for highways, said the line is the responsibility of Network Rail.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Network Rail have extended the temporary out of use status of the line to May 2016 while we work with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council to understand if the line forms a part of the Weymouth Town Masterplan.

“Once a way forward is agreed between Network Rail and the borough council the necessary process will be followed to either re-open or close the line as appropriate.”

For more, information about James’ campaign visit weymouthquayheritagecampaign.jimdo.com or search for ‘Weymouth Quay Heritage Campaign’ on Facebook.

COMMUNITY figures have also lent their support towards the tramway campaign. 

Ian Brooke of the Melcombe Regis Rotary Club said: “Weymouth has an amazing amount of history and heritage here which our tourism industry does not take advantage of.

“We need to open up our town to more people out of season and the heritage tramway is the way to go about it.

"This will not happen overnight or even in the next three years, but if James can keep up his enthusiasm and continue pushing this may just be a possibility.”

Littlemoor community leader Jan Hinton also spoke to the Echo in supports of the campaign.

She said: “The tramway line will remain dangerous until people realise it’s still there – and what better way to highlight that than to have a heritage tramway.

“I can’t see the tramway would create any huge problems. There is definitely room for it to run on an hourly basis. It would also benefit the town.”

Portland historian Stuart Morris welcomed the idea of the tramway campaign but said an independently verified feasibility study would need to be done on the line.

He said: “I admire James’ efforts to set up this campaign at such a young age and think he is a born organiser. 

“What all towns need is something unique and a heritage tramway would be just the ticket for Weymouth.”