A NEW tourist train linking Weymouth and Dorchester with the Swanage Railway was a huge success on its first outing.

As reported in the Echo, Weymouth-Waterloo operator South Western Railway has launched a summer Saturday train which runs to Corfe Castle where passengers can get a connecting steam train service to Swanage.

The train originates at Salisbury and runs to Weymouth via Yeovil before heading to Corfe via Wareham.

The Swanage Railways says such has been the level of public interest about the new service that the attraction recorded a ten-fold increase in traffic on its Facebook page and a five-fold increase in traffic on Twitter over a 24-hour period.

Swanage Railway Company chairman Trevor Parsons said: “This new summer Saturdays service to Corfe Castle shows what can be achieved through joint working and the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership. We’re delighted at how well the first day went and I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make it happen.

“After the investment in the future grant contributions from the Purbeck and Dorset councils – and the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund – in helping us upgrade the link between the Swanage Railway and the national railway network, we are keen to see the four-mile line between Norden station and Worgret Junction used as much as possible.

South Western Railway’s head of service strategy, Chris Loder, said the new train service was thanks to a “new ground-breaking partnership” and that the aim was to encourage new rail journeys and boost the Isle of Purbeck’s tourist economy through “great promotional fares”.

He added: “It was astonishing to see so many people coming to Corfe Castle by train from across the region – more than 100 people on the first train alone. Our new partnership with the Swanage Railway will make this innovation a great success. We’ll be gathering feedback to improve the service as much as we can over the summer.”

The service, which uses a three-carriage Class 159 diesel train runs until Saturday, September 8.

Purbeck Community Rail Partnership chairman Bill Trite praised the new partnership between the Swanage Railway and the South Western Railway’s – describing the new service to Corfe Castle as an “enterprising arrangement” and “a great step forward”.