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Project Wareham - Reconnecting Swanage with Wareham and the National Rail Network

Photographs by Andrew P.M. Wright Swanage Railway Official Photographer

For the Project Wareham Information and Appeal Leaflet November 2016 Click here

For the Wareham Services News Release September 2016 Click here

The Swanage Railway is currently engaged in a major project to upgrade the section of railway line between Norden, our current limit of regular operations, and our boundary with Network Rail near Worgret Junction in order to enable the reintroduction of a regular passenger train service between Swanage and Wareham.     

Project Wareham represents the culmination of a long struggle by many people over close to 45 years to fully reinstate the Swanage to Wareham ‘Purbeck Line’ and reverse the misguided transport policy of the 1960s that led to the closure of the Swanage branch by British Rail on New Year’s Day 1972.

Through fundraising and extreme hard work & dedication by our many staff and supporters the Swanage Railway has been reopened in a number of key stages since the late 1970s.  Trains initially ran between Swanage station and Herston in 1984 with extensions opening to Harmans Cross in 1989 and to Corfe Castle and Norden in 1995.  Realising the next objective of connecting with the national rail network at Wareham was always going to represent a significant step forward and has been achieved with the help and support of the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership which the Swanage Railway helped to establish in 1997.  The Partnership is made up of the following organisations: Dorset County Council, Purbeck District Council, Network Rail, Perenco, South West Trains and the Swanage Railway.  

Some frequently asked questions about Project Wareham and the Purbeck Line. 

Question 1:  What is Project Wareham and why are we doing it?

Answer:  Project Wareham entails delivering the infrastructure and capability to enable the full reinstatement of the Purbeck Line and reintroduction of timetabled passenger services between Swanage and Wareham.  The Swanage Railway is a heritage railway with a distinct community based purpose.  Reinstating passenger train services between Swanage and Wareham was a founding objective of the preserved Swanage Railway in the 1970s and is the aspiration of the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership.  The Purbeck Line represents the culmination of the original objective.

Question 2:  When will the train service to Wareham start?

Answer: Initially the service will start with a two year trial. The current plan is to introduce the first year's trial service in mid 2017 but exact dates are still to be determined. The start date is dependent upon completing infrastructure work, train refurbishment and staff training which is currently underway.  Exact dates will be finalised in Spring 2017.

Question 3:   How much as Project Wareham cost and how has it been funded?

Answer: Completion of the Purbeck Line and reconnecting with the mainline has been a hugely challenging undertaking. A completely new signalling system has been installed to control Worgret Junction where the Purbeck Line joins the London to Weymouth main line. This has been funded by a £3.2m grant from Dorset County Council and Purbeck District Council using developer transport contributions collected for enhancements to the transport infrastructure in the Isle of Purbeck.

The Swanage Railway has also received a grant of £1.47m from the Coastal Communities Fund, administered by the Big Fund on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government. This is being used to pay for the upgrade of the diesel multiple units (see question 5) and the upgrade of the track and infrastructure between Norden and Worgret. Last, but by no means least, the installation of a new barrier controlled level crossing on the Wytch Farm road at Norden is being funded by a £500,000 grant from BP.

Question 4:  During the trial service how often and when will the trains run?

Answer:  As stated above there will be a two year trial service.  In year one we plan to run the trial service on at least 50 days and in year two this will increase to 90 days.  During the first year we plan to spread the days on a set pattern over the summer period.  For example, we may decide to run the service every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday late June - early September.  The exact running days/times will be published in Spring 2017.

Question 5: What type of train will be used on the service?

Answer:  The Purbeck Line Service to Wareham will utilise our heritage diesel multiple unit (DMU) trains.  These trains are currently being refurbished offsite at Eastleigh railway works and are being brought up to the standard required to run on the main line.  Additional communication, safety and recording equipment are being installed for mainline operation as is central door locking. 

The prospect of running steam hauled trains to Wareham will remain a much longer term prospect.

Question 6:  Will the Swanage to Wareham service connect with the main line services at Wareham?

Answer:  The plan is to ensure the Purbeck Line service will connect with main line services at Wareham, both in the Weymouth and London directions.  This is one of the objectives in running our trial service.  In due course we hope to be in a position to integrate with the South West Trains timetable on all seven days of the week.   

Question 7:  How much will tickets cost to Wareham and where and when can I purchase them?

Answer:  The exact costs of a ticket to Wareham are still to be finally determined but we expect the fare to be attractive and competitive. Tickets will be able to be booked on line or at the normal Railway booking offices.  People living in the Purbeck District Council area can purchase a Residents Discount Card. 

Question 8: Can I book through tickets to other destinations from Swanage?

Answer:  The plan is for passengers to be able to book through tickets to other popular destinations beyond Wareham these destinations are yet to be finalised. It is also planned that passengers will be able to book through tickets to Swanage from other destinations.  As you will appreciate, ticketing involving destinations outside the Swanage Railway is beyond the control of the Railway.  However, we are working closely with South West Trains (SWT) to ensure that the ticketing process is available, effective and transparent.

Question 9:  Can I use my ticket to Wareham on the heritage steam service?

Answer:  Yes if you chose to do so you would be able to travel between Swanage and Corfe Castle on the heritage steam service and between Wareham and Corfe Castle on the DMU service.

Question 10: Where can I find out more information about how the Swanage Railway is conserving the environment along the line?

Answer: Click here

For further information on Project Wareham please contact Mark Woolley (Project Wareham Director) [email protected]