Martin Trott

12th May, 2024

Class 50
Andrew P.M. Wright


Martin Trott

12th May, 2024

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


Evening diesel gala and beer festival train services on the Swanage Railway heritage line in Dorset were suspended after a diesel locomotive was partially derailed at Corfe Castle station on Saturday, 11 May, 2024.


The Swanage Railway has informed the Government’s independent Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) which is investigating the cause of the partial derailment.


The heritage line’s regulator and inspectorate – the Government’s Office of Rail and Road (ORR) – is aware of the incident.


The incident involving 1968-built ex-British Rail Class 50 No. 50 026 ‘Indomitable’ happened around 6.30pm as a passenger train bound for Harman’s Cross and Swanage was running into Corfe Castle station from Norden.


The restored 115-ton heritage diesel locomotive was on the back of the six carriage passenger train when the incident happened.


No passengers were injured and no damage was sustained to the carriages of the train. There was a diesel locomotive on the front of the train.


The incident at Corfe Castle station happened on the second day of the annual three-day diesel gala and beer festival which is in its seventeenth year on the Swanage Railway.


Train passengers attending the beer festival at Corfe Castle station from Swanage were returned to Swanage by the Swanage Railway after evening train services were suspended on Saturday, 11 May, 2024.


Specialist contractors were brought in to re-rail the partially derailed Class 50 diesel locomotive and that operation was completed in the early hours of Sunday, 12 May, 2024.


Swanage Railway Company chairman Gavin Johns said: “The Government’s Rail Accident Investigation Branch has been advised of the incident and we liaised with the RAIB regarding the recovery of the diesel locomotive and the RAIB’s investigation into what caused the partial derailment of the diesel locomotive.


“While the RAIB is investigating the incident – and after discussions with the RAIB - our planned train services for Sunday, 12 May, 2024, have been altered.


“There will be 11 trains operating but they will only be running on the five and a half miles of line between Swanage, Corfe Castle and Norden – not beyond Norden on the four miles of line to the River Frome, within sight of Wareham, as our train services were during the first two days of our annual diesel gala and beer festival.


“The return of the ‘Jurassic Crompton’ rail tour from Swanage to Eastleigh and London Waterloo, via our main line connection near the River Frome, will still be taking place on the afternoon of Sunday, 12 May, 2024.


“Carrying passengers attending our diesel gala and beer festival – and operated by the Branch Line Society and the main line train operating company GB Railfreight - the rail tour arrived in Swanage on Thursday, 9 May, 2024,” explained Gavin who is also a volunteer signalman on the Dorset heritage line.


Nine heritage diesel locomotives from the 1960s and 1970s – seven of them visiting the Swanage Railway and two resident – have gathered on the heritage line to haul passenger trains during the diesel gala and beer festival.


Class 50 locomotive No. 50 026 ‘Indomitable’ was withdrawn from British Rail service in 1990 with a dedicated group of volunteers spending 15 years restoring the heritage diesel.


The locomotive, which carries a nostalgic British Rail 1980s Network South East livery, has been taken out of service and will be examined for any damage as a result of the incident.

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