Fresh calls are being made to bring Weymouth's defunct harbour tramway back into use.

The new push for a revival of the quayside line comes from the Campaign for Better Transport which is making a case for an expansion of the railways by reopening or rebuilding old routes.

It says reopening railways has the potential to transform communities – relieving road congestion and pollution and making economically disadvantaged parts of the country more attractive for investment.

The harbour tramway is not included in one of the 33 national reopening schemes which the group says should be prioritised.

However it is among those listed as 'priority 2' projects; those identified in research which are said to be 'feasible but require further development or changed circumstances to assist them in being taken forward'. Changed circumstances could be, for example, housing development proposals which encroach on the route.

There is no mention of how such a scheme for Weymouth can be revived or funded, or whether it could involve a regular quay service linking with the main line near Weymouth station or – as has been explored in the past – a railcar ferrying passengers along the harbour as a tourist attraction.

While rail campaigners and heritage enthusiasts will welcome the inclusion of the tramway in the report, the reality is that reviving a train service along Weymouth Harbour looks unlikely.

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HEYDAY: Boat train on Custom House Quay

Built in 1865 to service the ferries when the Channel Islands 'boat trains' would trundle through the streets carrying passengers and freight, the line has seen no regular use since 1990.

The last movements over it were special trains in 1995 and 1999, although the Echo understands that train charter companies have attempted to run services on the line since but without success.

Borough councillors decided three years ago to put the line into permanent out-of-use status following an approach from Network Rail after agreeing it was a "danger" to the public and constraining development of the town.

However the line remains in place – tearing it up would cost many millions as the sleepers are buried under the road surface. Removing the track would have to be subject to further consultation and negotiation with the highways authority and the government would have to agree to close the line.

Campaigners have previously called for the unique line to be preserved and for it to be used as a heritage attraction.

But it has been at the centre of a lot of controversy over the years and has been blamed for causing multiple accidents.

Weymouth & Portland Borough Council Briefholder for Transport and Infrastructure Cllr Colin Huckle said the authority had been negotiating with Network Rail 'for a few years' over the tracks – to either remove them or cover them over to make it safer.

He said: "Regarding this new call from the Campaign for Better Transport I don't really think it's a goer; it's a bit pie in the sky to be honest. It's too late in the day for it to be considered.

"I think we'd be better off calling for improvements on the mainline and getting a faster train from Weymouth to London."

Cllr Huckle pointed to the bid for Coastal Communities Funding which, if successful, could transform the area around Weymouth railway station and improve links into the town centre. He said this would conflict with any plan to revive the quay line.

Green Party borough and county councillor Dr Jon Orrell said: "Alternatives to road-choking cars are worth considering. A train or tram link from the park and ride site to the town and peninsula would be helpful."

But he added that following discussions with Network Rail last year he understood the authority was not supportive of reopening the line to new trains, citing new standards for shared road use which are more stringent compared to the boat train days.

"In the meantime preserving the rails with a safety covering for cyclists in some parts would achieve one campaign aim of better active transport," Cllr Orrell added.