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's existing signalling system at Corfe Castle. This work is part of Network Rail'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.
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.
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".
On 13 June 2017, a 60-day trial diesel service commenced between Swanage and the mainline at Wareham. There were four trains a day in each direction between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage. The trial service ran until 3 September 2017.
In the summer of 2018, South West Railway worked with the partnership and Swanage Railway to provide a Saturday service linking west and north Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire with Corfe Castle. Starting at Salisbury, the weekly trains called at mainline stations including Sherborne, Yeovil and Weymouth before running to Corfe Castle. Passengers were also able to continue their journey by rail to Swanage by purchasing a Swanage Railway ticket for a steam or diesel heritage train journey.
Progress made by the partnership, includes:
purchase of trains by Dorset County Council, capable of refurbishment to current mainline standards
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
successful installation of signalling and track alterations to enable the bay platform at Swanage to be used, in due course, for Wareham passenger services
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
commencement of negotiations between Dorset County Council and Network Rail to purchase the track bed from Motala, near Norden, to Worgret Junction
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 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
between 13 June 2017 and 3 September 2017 a trial service took place between Swanage and the mainline at Wareham
- summer 2018 - special Saturday service from Salisbury to Corfe Castle
5 October 2017 - the PCRP won an ACoRP Innovation in Community Rail award
- October 2018 - second place in the ACoRP Innovation in Community Rail award for the 2018 summer Saturday service
The Purbeck Community Rail Partnership is an alliance between Purbeck District Council; Dorset County Council; Network Rail; Borough of Poole Council; Perenco (previously BP); South Western Railway (formerly South West Trains); Swanage Town Council; and the Swanage Railway.
The business plan 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.
See the Constitution of the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership adopted on 10 July 2018.