I love the Swanage Railway. I was lucky enough to visit it when it was a real line, in 1971 and on the last day 1 January 1972. I was on the train that got held up by cowboys. Sadly I don't have the photos to hand, they are in the attic somewhere and no doubt willl be scanned eventually!
But Swanage intends to be a real railway again soon, runninga daily service from the junction with the network at Wareham. Unfortunately for the line the junction wasn't right at the station but about a mile away at Worgret, so the new service will involve running over the network. But this is going to happen everywhere so it's good that Swanage will be the groundbreaker.
Full report from the Swanage website here.
Swanage to Wareham Daily ServiceOne of the goals of the Swanage Railway is to restore a daily service between Swanage and Wareham to connect with the main line. This is progressing well and we hope to have a service running around 2013. However, before that can be done there is a tremendous amount of work to be done to upgrade the track between the Swanage Railway and Worgret Junction, just west of Wareham station. While Swanage is now connected to the national rail network, the infrastructure is not currently suitable for daily train running and is restricted to just several charter trains each year.
The key issue is signalling. We are hoping to have the branch junction re-signalled for regular passenger traffic as part of a Network Rail upgrade of the mainline that is scheduled for around 2012. During a recent visit to the Swanage Railway, Transport Minister Lord Adonis listened to our plans for establishing a service, noting in The Times that "the business case is promising and the proposal is highly credible." Lord Adonis said that he would schedule a high level meeting to discuss the plans.
What else needs to be done? The 'Project Wareham' to do list is a long one. While the track is in place and has recently accepted charter trains visiting Swanage, it does need to be upgraded in places. The service will also require rolling stock as well as storage and maintenance facilities. There are also plans to develop this area. The line beyond Norden needs further investment to upgrade the line speed to 25mph. A full barrier crossing will be required at Norden before regular movements will be permitted and at anything more than walking pace.
Our new signal box at Corfe Castle is now in service and will need to be fitted with the necessary equipment to interface directly with Network Rail such that trains can be exchanged without the need for padlocks and gates.
All of this requires funding. Swanage Railway supporters have launched a £100,000 appeal to upgrade the section of the Swanage Railway towards Wareham. Without this funding, the regular daily service will not happen. This £100,000 is only a small part of the total funding required.
Donations to the project can be made on-line or by cheque or money order payable to the Swanage Railway Trust (Project Wareham), Station House, Swanage, Dorset BH19 1HB. Please download and print the form on the right to send with your donation or donate on-line by using the links below.
Please click here to visit the Swanage Railway Trust Appeals section at http://www.swanagerailwaytrust.org.uk/appeals/index.htm#Wareham