The last train on the Swanage Railway left Swanage for Wareham in January 1972, 87 years since it began operation. During the summer of this year British rail lifted the tracks and melted them down while the sleepers were sold to local farmers and in just seven weeks the line was gone.
There were great plans to create a road bypass and services to allow people to easily get to and from Corfe and Swanage but the local residents of Swanage had different ideas. In 1975 the town voted to reinstate the Swanage Railway. The local council then leased Swanage station to the newly formed Swanage railway society and the long battle to rebuild the line began.
The line at first ran for a few hundred yards and the first steam train ran on this tiny line in 1980.The line gradually was extended and after much effort and critical government enquiries the line was gradually extended and in January, 2002 – 30 years after the line was lifted – the Swanage Railway’s tracks met the Network Rail line from Worgret Junction.
A long, hard job – the volunteers had achieved one of their objectives.
Another piece of Swanage Railway history took place in 2002 – the running of the first train from Wareham to Swanage, albeit with no passengers between Wareham and Norden.
With the Swanage Railway connected to the national railway network for just one weekend, the Virgin Voyager carried passengers between Norden, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross and Swanage.
In 2013, the Swanage Railway was awarded a £1.4 million Government grant to return passenger trains between Swanage and Wareham.
That trial train service started in September, 2015, and ran for just 140 selected days over the following two years.
Following this successful trial and after further negotiation and new signalling being installed the line was ready to join the mainline network
This month a new tourist train was launched linking Weymouth with the The Swanage Railway was a huge success on its first outing.
South Western Railway has launched a summer Saturday train which runs to Corfe where passengers can get a connecting steam train service to Swanage.
The train originates at Salisbury and runs to Weymouth via Yeovil before heading to Corfe via Wareham.
The service, which uses a three-carriage Class 159 diesel train runs until Saturday, September 8.