PLENTY of people recall fondly the days of steam trains through Dorset, but a book by railwayman Mark Jamieson records slightly more recent scenes.

Dorset Traction features a collection of pictures from the days when diesel and electric services took over. The author grew up a stone’s throw from the now-vanished Poole to Broadstone railway line and worked on the railways for a living. He held the right permissions to take shots from some excellent vantage points at the side of the track.

He notes that while Dorset does not have a vast railway network, several main lines cut through the county or finish here.

The Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway, from Bath to Bournemouth, has gone. The branch lines to Lyme Regis, Bridport, Portland, Abbotsbury and Swanage were all closed and the track lifted – although the latter was to make a return thanks to the efforts of volunteers. Weymouth Quay tramway saw its last train in 1999.

After steam disappeared in 1967, the most common sights on Dorset’s railways were the Class 33/1 diesel engines and 4TC diesel multiple units that ran between Bournemouth and Weymouth. They disappeared in 1988, after the line west of Bournemouth was electrified to make it possible to travel by electrically powered train all the way from London.

In 1988, Class 442 Wessex Electric were introduced, running until 2007, when Siemens-built Class 444 and 450 Desiro units took over.

The author writes in his introduction: “While threatened with heavy rationalisation, and indeed complete closure west of Bournemouth under the Serpell Report of 1983, the main line from Waterloo to Weymouth now enjoys its best service ever, with two trains per hour and an hourly service on Sundays. Likewise, the Waterloo to Exeter line that cuts through the north of the county also enjoys its best-ever service.”

Special steam or diesel-hauled rail tours also visit the county regularly.

Freight has been a less common part of Dorset’s rail services, and Mark notes that February 2014 saw the final freight train depart with sand from Wool to Neasden.

But he notes that a new flow of stone is running to Hamworthy from the Mendip quarries, while the decommissioned nuclear power station at Winfrith is expected to export low-level waste by train. The county’s rail network could yet get busier.

n Dorset Traction, by Mark Jamieson, has 96 pages with 180 illustrations. It costs £14.99 from Amberley Publishing, The Hill, Merrywalks, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 4EP, and is also available in Kindle, Kobo and iBook formats. Details are at