Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Saturday, 28 March 2009

Historic passenger train returns

The first tracks being relaid at Swanage in 1977 (Andrew P M Wright collection)
Swanage Railway Trust has spent more than 30 years reviving the line

The first passenger train since 1972 is set to run on an historic steam-powered railway in Dorset next week.

The special train - called the Purbeck Pioneer - will depart from London's Victoria Station on Wednesday.

It is 37 years since the last British Rail passenger train ran on the Swanage Railway between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage on 1 January 1972.

Organisers said the demand for tickets had been so big they are running a second train the following day.

The trains will also be the first passenger services to run from London to Swanage since 1 January 1972.

'Rebuilt from nothing'

Mike Whitwam, chairman of Swanage Railway Trust, said: "The Swanage Railway has been rebuilt from nothing since 1976 so these first through trains from London are very important and a huge achievement.

"It took British Rail seven weeks to lift the seven miles of track from Furzebrook to Corfe Castle and Swanage in the summer of 1972 and it took us some 30 years to relay them.

"The running of the first passenger trains from Wareham down to Corfe Castle and Swanage is the achievement of a long-held and treasured dream by everyone involved with the Swanage Railway over more than 30 years.

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Mike Whitwam
Mr Whitwam says it is a long-held and treasured dream come true

"It has been a very long and very tiring road.

"I'm sure that the atmosphere on the train, as well as the lineside, will be similar to that on Wednesday 20 May 1885, when the very first train ran on the newly built Swanage branch line.

"It will be a very big day indeed and rightly so because it is such an achievement."

The 12 carriages will be made up of Mark One stock dating from the British Railways steam days of the 1950s and they will be powered by a DB Schenker Class 66 diesel locomotive.

They will leave London Victoria station at 0845 BST and will run via Guildford, Petersfield, Fareham, Southampton, Brockenhurst, Bournemouth and Poole to Wareham.

They will then leave the London to Weymouth main line at Worgret Junction and run down the three-mile (5km) previously freight train only line to Furzebrook before running on to the Swanage Railway at Norden.

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