After 41 years, Dorset railway turns tables on Beeching cuts

After 41 years, Dorset railway turns tables on Beeching cuts : Special service heralds forthcoming return of scheduled trains to Swanage line after victory for volunteers. A historic train service is on track to return more than 40 years after being controversially axed by the former British Rail.

Passengers got a taste of things to come yesterday, riding the first service from Bournemouth to Corfe Castle and Swanage since 1972. Regular trains are scheduled to be back running on the reinstated three-mile route by spring 2015, creating 10 jobs and a further 40 indirectly, following a £1.47m grant to the volunteer-led Swanage Railway.

The demise of the Swanage branch line 41 years ago saw tracks ripped up and sold for scrap in what many regarded as an act of industrial vandalism.

SouthWest Trains ran its first brief passenger train to help highlight work to bring back a Swanage to Wareham service. It was the first time that a SouthWest Trains diesel train had visited a heritage railway.

Fittingly, it ran on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Beeching Report which, published on 27 March 1963, led to a third of the UK rail network being cut, including services in Dorset.

Swanage Railway Company chairman Peter Sills travelled on the last British Rail train from Swanage as a teenager in 1972. He said the special service “gave us the chance to show Dorset dignitaries and stakeholders the progress being made towards reintroducing an amenity train service from Swanage and Corfe Castle to the main line at Wareham. Beeching in reverse. It was a very exciting day and the feedback was very positive.

“I am very grateful indeed to SouthWest Trains and Network Rail for their very kind help in enabling this historic and very special train to run on our behalf,” he said.

“The special train also enabled our guests to travel on the three-mile Network Rail line from Worgret Junction, on the main London to Weymouth line just west of Wareham, to the start of the Swanage Railway just east of Furzebrook. It is a stretch of line only used by occasional excursion trains from various parts of the country down to Corfe Castle and Swanage,” said Sills.

Phil Dominey, SouthWest Trains-Network Rail Alliance stakeholder and accessibility manager, said: “We are delighted to have been involved in such a historic journey. It was a informative and enjoyable day for everyone involved.”

Dorset rail service returns after 41 years

Source : Guardian

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