Swanage And Wareham Rail Service Back On Track
7:57am 11th September 2014
(Updated 8:32am 11th September 2014)
A return to rail services from Swanage is one step closer after a historic agreement between Network Rail and Dorset County Council.
The County Council has signed a 99-year lease with the Swanage Railway for the last three miles of the Swanage branch line to Wareham.
It means that the town could be re-connected to the national rail network by the end of next year, after a break of over 40 years.
Peter Finney, Environment Portfolio holder for Dorset County Council said the signing of the lease was "an important achievement" towards reinstating the line.
"Everyone involved in the project has worked tremendously hard to achieve this milestone."
"There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done but it is a huge step towards the return of a service that last operated regularly in 1972."
The signing of the lease allows the railway to use grants of over £2 million, from the Government Coastal Communities and BP, to improve infrastructure and make upgrades to track and bridges.
Over £3 million has already been spent on making other earlier improvements to the line.
Mike Lovell, Dorset County Councillor and chair of the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership, said that improvement of transport links would be a major advantage for Swanage residents.
"A fully-functioning rail link will enable people from Swanage and Corfe Castle to travel by train to anywhere in the country. Families and holiday-makers will be able to leave the car at home, taking traffic away from the heavily-congested A351."
He added: "Further investment is still needed to reinstate a major service. However, the signing of this lease is a huge boost to efforts to commence a trial community service and a progression towards a fully-fledged service."