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WAVE 105 RADIO PRESENTER MARK COLLINS TO NAME CLASS 66 DIESEL-ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE 'SWANAGE RAILWAY'

Published: May 4, 2015

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

Dedicated work by several generations of railway campaigners and pioneers across more than 40 years is to be recognised when popular Wave 105 radio presenter Mark Collins names a powerful Class 66 diesel-electric locomotive 'Swanage Railway'.

The historic ceremony in the presence of  GB Railfreight Managing Director John Smith takes place at Swanage station at 1.30pm on Thursday, 7 May, 2015, during a special 'Go West' day re-creating trains on the Western Region of British Rail between the 1960s and the 1980s.

The identity of the chosen 127-tonne Class 66 locomotive to proudly carry the name 'Swanage Railway' around the country is being kept under wraps until the big day.

It is not the first time that a GB Railfreight Class 66 will have run to Swanage – the company's Class 66 locomotives have run on the Swanage Railway on two previous occasions.

The first GB Railfreight Class 66 ran to Swanage in October, 2007, when No. 66 704 'Colchester Power Signalbox' hauled a Network Rail auto-ballaster train to Norden for a Network Rail staff training day when ballast was dropped on the track between Motala and Norden Gates level crossing.

That occasion was the first time that a ballast train from the main line had operated on to the Swanage Railway since the British Rail days of the late 1960s.

Then in May, 2008 – during that year's popular diesel gala and beer festival – more history was made when GB Railfreight Class 66 No. 66 724 'Drax Power Station' was the first ever Class 66 to haul passenger trains on the Swanage Railway.

For popular Wave 105 radio morning show presenter and life-long railway enthusiast Mark Collins, Thursday's naming of a Canadian General Motors-built Class 66 locomotive operated by GB Railfreight will be a real dream come true.

“I’ve always been a railway enthusiast ever since my grandmother used to take me to the station to watch trains in my pram," he explained.

"My career has seen me work for French Railways and make two series of 'Trainspotting' for the Discovery Channel, so it's a great honour to be asked to name one of GB Railfreight’s Class 66 locomotives.

"It’s the icing on the cake for any fan of Britain’s railways and will be a very special day remembered by many people for many years to come,” he added.

Swanage Railway interim general manager Matt Green said: “The naming will be a very special and moving moment for everyone involved in the Swanage Railway – both past and present – because the locomotive proudly carrying the name 'Swanage Railway' will be seen across the country.

"It’s a real pleasure to give Mark Collins the opportunity of naming one of GB Railfreight’s Class 66 locomotives and take part in the ceremony at Swanage station.

"To be named ‘Swanage Railway’ is a real honour for all those very dedicated and professional people who work to keep our heritage line running, developing and expanding. The Swanage Railway is nothing without its people,” he added.

After the locomotive naming at Swanage station, Mark Collins and other guests will board the Swanage Railway 'Wessex Belle' luxury dining train to enjoy a cream tea.

The special celebratory train will be running not just to Corfe Castle and Norden but beyond through Furzebrook and East Holme to bridge No. 4 which spans the River Frome just south of Worgret Junction.

Bridge No. 4 is close to the boundary between the Swanage Railway and the national railway system after the abolition of the old boundary – at Motala between Norden and Furzebrook – in September, 2014.

This year's annual three-day Swanage Railway Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival takes place from Friday to Sunday, 8 to 10 May, 2015, inclusive.

Offering 25 real ales and craft beers – as well as six craft ciders and three exclusively brewed Swanage Railway special edition beers – the beer festival takes place at Corfe Castle station where beer tickets, commemorative glasses and festival programmes are available on entry.

The 'Go West' Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival preview day will see 'Hymek' No. D7076, Class 45 No. 45 060 'Sherwood Forrester’ and Class 50 No. 50 035 'Ark Royal' operating alongside steam-hauled trains between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage.

The three-day Diesel Gala will see an intensive three-train service operate between Norden Park & Ride, Corfe Castle, Harman's Cross and Swanage from 8am to 12 midnight on the Friday and Saturday and from 8am to 7pm on the Sunday.

Subject to availability, other visiting diesel locomotives will be Class 25 No. D5185, Class 37 No. 37 057, Class 45 No. 45 060 'Sherwood Forrester', Class 50 No. 50 035 'Ark Royal' and Class 56 No. 56 006, as well as a mystery Class 66 from GB Railfreight and the 1,700 horsepower 'Hymek'.

The Swanage Railway's British Rail blue Southern Region Class 33 diesel locomotives also will be appearing – No. 33 111 and No. 33 201 – will also be appearing, subject to availability.

Next to Norden station, the award-winning Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum will be open on the Saturday and Sunday.

The goods shed museum, exhibition and cinema coach at Corfe Castle station will be open throughout the gala with trade and enthusiast stands at Corfe Castle and Swanage stations.

'Beerex' and Wessex Belle 'Bistro’ dining train services will also be operating on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

On the Friday evening, No. 37057 will be hauling the 'Beerex' train with No. 45060 working the Wessex Belle 'Bistro' while on the Saturday evening No. D5185 and No. 33 201 will haul the 'Beerex' while No. 50 035 will be working the Wessex Belle 'Bistro'.

Driver Experience courses for the public will be operating on Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 May, 2015, using Class 25 No. D5185 for £200 per participant with details from the Swanage Railway website.

Freedom of the Line all-day travel fares on the Thursday 'Go West' preview day will be £12.50 for adults, £7.50 for children and £35 for families (two adults and up to three children aged three to 15 inclusive).

Diesel Gala Adult Rover fares for unlimited travel are £25 for one day, £38 for two days and £46 for three days. Discounted fares are also available for children.

Adult Rover fares for 'Priv' card holders and CAMRA members are £18 for one day, £28 for two days and £36 for three days. Standard single and return fares are also available.

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