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Purbeck Community Rail Partnership

The Purbeck Community Rail Partnership has been working since 1997 to re-establish a regular passenger rail service from Swanage to Wareham.

A number of steps need to be completed before a service is established, with funding in place to bring these to fruition.

In 2010, Purbeck District Council and Dorset County Council committed £3.2million for re-signalling improvements and other work needed between Wareham Station, Worgret Junction and Swanage Railway (opens in a new window)'s existing signalling system at Corfe Castle. This work is part of Network Rail (opens in a new window)'s 2013 Poole to Wool re-signalling scheme.

BP also contributed £500,000 towards works at Norden Level Crossing. This was a legacy donation to the community when the oilfield was sold to Perenco UK Limited (opens in a new window).

Swanage Railway was awarded a £1.47 million government grant from the Coastal Communities Fund. This successful bid helped provide the finance to enable the refurbishment of rolling stock and improvements to the infrastructure.

Swanage Railway's grant, together with the funding from Purbeck District Council and Dorset County Council and BP, means that the operation of a limited service in 2017 is now a realistic proposition.

Dorset County Council has underwritten Purbeck District Council's financial commitment to the signalling work. The funding has been raised through the Purbeck Transport Strategy which aims to improve movement around the district, taking traffic away from the congested A351 by using alternative forms of transport. The Strategy is funded by contributions from development.

Enabling a rail link between Swanage and the mainline meets Purbeck District Council's priority to "help all people access services locally".

Trial service

On 13 June 2017, a 60-day trial diesel service will commence between Swanage and the mainline at Wareham.  There will be four trains a day in each direction between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage.

Buy tickets and view the timetable


British Railways closed the passenger railway from Wareham to Swanage in January 1972. In 1997, after much local enthusiasm to restore the link, the Purbeck Rail Partnership was formed to support its re-opening.


Progress made by the partnership, includes:

  • the purchase of trains by Dorset County Council, capable of refurbishment to current mainline standards

  • the completion of track-laying between Furzebrook and the current terminus of the heritage railway at "Motala" near Norden. This has enabled movement of rolling stock between Swanage and the national network, which culminated in the first passenger charter trains since 1972, in 2009

  • the successful installation of signalling and track alterations to enable the bay platform at Swanage to be used, in due course, for Wareham passenger services

  • the underwriting of costs by Dorset County Council for a study as part of the Poole to Wool Re-signalling Scheme, advising on re-signalling to meet passenger standards

  • completion of a new Swanage Railway signal box at Corfe Castle which is designed to enable Swanage Railway signallers to liaise with their Network Rail counterparts when sending trains between the two networks

  • the commencement of negotiations between Dorset County Council and Network Rail to purchase the track bed from Motala, near Norden, to Worgret Junction

  • the commitment of £3 million by Dorset County Council and Purbeck District Council for re-signalling work at Worgret Junction and Wareham

  • re-signalling improvements completed

  • lease signed for the northern-most three miles of the line between Wareham and Swanage

  • installation of new signalling to control Worgret Junction where the Purbeck line joins the London to Weymouth main line

  • upgrade of track by Swanage Railway between Norden and Worgret Junction to enable regular passenger trains to operate

  • On 8 September 2014, a major milestone in the project was reached when Swanage Railway signed a lease with Dorset County Council for the branch line between Wareham and Swanage.

  • a new full barrier level crossing installed at Norden, funded by the £500,000 grant from BP.  This entailed 3,000 hours of Swanage Railway volunteer time in designing, building and testing.

See more about Swanage Railway's progress (opens in a new window).

The Partnership

The Purbeck Community Rail Partnership is an alliance between Purbeck District Council; Dorset County Council; Network Rail; Borough of Poole Council; Perenco;  South West Trains and the Swanage Railway.

Business Plan

The Business Plan (pdf, 128kb) (opens in a new window) sets out how the Partnership is proposing to achieve the aim of operating a Swanage to Wareham amenity service. It is a living document which will continue to develop as the rail connection progresses.


The Partnership meets on a quarterly basis. Unapproved minutes of the Partnership's meetings are presented to members of Purbeck District Council at the following council meeting. They will be accessible in the agenda papers for Purbeck District Council's Committee Meetings. When approved, the minutes will be available on this page.

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