The Swanage Railway made history on June 13 – by running the first timetabled passenger services into Wareham for 45 years.
The 10.23am departure from Swanage was the first public passenger train over the entirety of the Swanage branch line since services were withdrawn in January 1972, and marked the start of a 60-day trial service between the seaside terminus and the railway’s main line connection.
Swanage Railway Trust Chairman, Gavin Johns, said: "Returning trains from Swanage and Corfe Castle to Wareham shows what can be achieved thanks to vision, determination and working together in partnership. This is the culmination of a huge amount of work by our dedicated volunteers and the support of our stakeholders.
"My thanks go to the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership, the government's Coastal Communities Fund for its £1.8 million grant, Purbeck District Council, Dorset County Council, Network Rail, South West Trains and the Department for Transport for their help in reaching this historic milestone for Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck," he added.
Four trains a day between Swanage and Wareham will operate on 60 selected days this summer, with the trial service expanded to 90 days next year.
It had been hoped to operate the service with the railway’s own three-coach Class 117 DMUs and Class 121 ‘Bubble Car’, but delays in upgrading the vehicles’ wheelsets to main line standard mean that the trains are being operated by West Coast Railways.
Trains will be top-and-tailed by the main line operator’s own Class 33 and 37 diesels, as well as the Swanage Railway’s resident main line certified Class 33, No. 33012/D6515.