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Published: April 22, 2016

Story by Andrew P.M. Wright                                                                                                              Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer

History is to be made during the Swanage Railway's popular three-day Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival in May with the first ever visit of a classic 1960s west of England 'Warship' class locomotive.

The event will also be the first time that brake van rides and driver experience trains operate on the newly restored four-mile line from Norden to bridge No. 4 at the River Frome – within sight of the town of Wareham and just half a mile short of the London to Weymouth main line.

Now in its eleventh year, the action-packed diesel gala and beer festival takes place between Friday and Sunday, 6 and 8 May, 2016, with 12 diesel locomotives hauling the trains to an intensive timetable, subject to availability.

This year's event will also be making more history with Class 40 locomotive 'Andania' hauling its first passenger train since being withdrawn from British Rail service more than 30 years ago – in 1985.

The gala will also see the first appearance on the Swanage Railway of a Class 46 diesel locomotive.

The diesel gala preview day on Thursday, 5 May, 2016, will see diesel trains from the Waterloo to Exeter main line re-created on the Swanage Railway – with locomotives carrying the west of England route's distinctive '62' headcode for semi-fast trains.

That evocative scene-setting preview day will see a special pre-booked 'Sconex' cream tea train run the nine miles between Swanage and bridge No. 4 over the River Frome with Class 42 No. D832 'Onslaught' and Class 33 No. 33 111 on each end of the train.

That special cream tea train will be the first time that Class 33 No. 111 has hauled a passenger train between Norden, Furzebrook and the River Frome since September, 1971, when the classic Southern Region workhorse locomotive took the last 4TC 'push-pull' carriage set to Corfe Castle and Swanage on an enthusiasts' special.

The diesel gala preview day locomotives will be, subject to availability, Class 42 ‘Warship’ No. D832 ‘Onslaught’, Class 33 No. 33111 and Class 50 No. 50035 with the classic diesel locomotives from yesteryear operating alongside steam-hauled trains with the first departure from Swanage at 10am.

The three-day diesel gala itself will see newly restored Class 40 locomotive No. 40 013 'Andania' haul its first passenger trains in preservation following a full overhaul.

During three-day diesel gala, there will be an intensive timetable with trains running from 8am to 12 midnight on the Friday and Saturday – and from 8am to 7pm on the Sunday.

And on Sunday, 8 May, 2016, the Swanage Railway's resident pair of Class 08 shunters – No. 08 436 and No. D3591 – will be topping and tailing brake van trains from Norden to the River Frome, just half a mile short of the junction with the London to Weymouth line west of Wareham.

Subject to availability, the diesel gala locomotive line-up will be:

Class 08 – No. 08 436 and No. D3591.
Class 20 – No. 20 142 and No. 20 205.
Class 31 – No. 31 162.
Class 33 – No. D6515, No. 33 111 and No. 33 201.
Class 40 – No. 40 013 ‘Andania’.
Class 42 – No. D832 ‘Onslaught’.
Class 46 – No. 46 045.
Class 50 – No. 50 035.

The diesel gala will be the first time that Class 20 No. 20 205 and Class 31 No. 31162 have hauled trains on the Swanage Railway.
On the Friday and Saturday evening, a ‘Beerex' train and 'Wessex Belle' Bistro dining train will also be operating between Swanage, Harman's Cross, Corfe Castle and Norden – with advance booking for the Bistro being essential.

Swanage Railway General Manager Matt Green said: "Our annual diesel gala transports the Swanage Railway, and our passengers, back to the heyday of classic British Rail diesel locomotives in the 1960s and the 1970s.

"A lot of hard work goes into preparing the event – not to mention staging it – and I would like to thank everyone involved in bringing such an enjoyable and evocative event to the rails.

"Located next to the restored Victorian goods shed at Corfe Castle station, the Dorset Beer Festival enjoys an excellent grandstand view of the workhorse diesel locomotives coming and going with their trains.

"The beer festival will be selling the Swanage Railway's own 'Old Pusher', 'Regulator' and 'Swanage Pride' ales with the nearby free-admission good sheds museum, exhibition coach and cinema coach also being open to the public during the event.

"The award-winning and acclaimed Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum will also be open during the diesel gala with the opportunity to explore the fascinating exhibits, find out about the 2,000 year old history of ball clay mining in the Isle of Purbeck – and the chance to find out what it was like to go through an underground mining tunnel.

"With trade stands at Swanage – and now in its eleventh year – this year's Swanage Railway diesel gala is, once again, going to be an event not to be missed.

"There is also the added spice and interest of the first diesel-hauled brake van trains operating on our newly commissioned four-mile extension from Norden past Furzebrook and down to the River Frome near Wareham," added Matt.

'Route 62' preview day fares for Thursday, 5 May, 2016, are
£20 for adult Freedom all-day travel,
£13 for child Freedom all-day travel and
£55 for family (two Adults and three children aged five to 15) Freedom all-day travel.

Diesel Gala fares ( Friday, 6 May, to Sunday, 8 May, 2016) are
£25 for a one-day adult Rover ticket, £38 for an adult two-day Rover ticket and £46 for a three-day Rover ticket.
Child Rover tickets are £18 for one day, £28 for two days and £36 for three days.

Discounted fares for 'Priv' card holders and CAMRA members are £18 for a one-day Rover, £28 for a two-day Rover and £36 for a three-day Rover.

Check our diesel gala event webpage at http://www.swanagerailway.co.uk/events/diesel-gala-2 for further updates.

You can find our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/swanagerailway for the latest news.

Swanage Railway train times – and special event details – are available online at www.swanagerailway.co.uk or by telephone on 01929 425800.