Further calls have been made for improved rail links to south Dorset.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, South Dorset MP Richard Drax said the constituency was 'the most beautiful in the whole of the UK', which made improving infrastructure a tricky issue.

However, he stressed that improving rail links to Weymouth was vital to creating wealth and prosperity in the area.

"What we can do is improve our rail links on the Salisbury line and at Yeovil Junction to get faster trains to Weymouth," the MP said.

He urged Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, who was standing in for the prime minister, to 'reassure me and my constituents that the government are behind this scheme'.

He added that creating more wealth and prosperity in South Dorset was 'exactly what the government wants'.

Mr Lidington declined to express uncategorical backing for the scheme to boost links via Yeovil and Salisbury, but did promise to ensure further consultation.

"My honourable friend's constituency has seen considerable new housing development in recent years," he noted. "I will ensure that transport ministers talk to him about the particular concerns he has expressed."

Mr Drax has for a long time advocated opening a new direct line between Weymouth and London via Yeovil Junction and Salisbury, bypassing Bournemouth and Southampton. It is estimated the new link would take half an hour less from departure to terminus than the existing Weymouth-Waterloo line.

In 2016 he met rail minister Paul Maynard to push for better links to south Dorset, and he has also met with the former and current holders of the area's rail franchise. The MP told the Echo that he thought the scheme was 'achievable'.

"It is realistic in the sense that it wouldn't just be me who benefits; improving the rail links would also benefit other parts of the South West, especially Yeovil and Salisbury," he explained. "So I'm working alongside my colleagues Marcus Fysh, the MP for Yeovil, and John Glen, MP for Salisbury. I think that by working together we have a better chance of achieving our aim. We have a good cause."