Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 14:46 UK

Historic passenger train returns


The passenger train travelled from Wareham, to Corfe Castle and Swanage.

A passenger train has completed a journey from London to Swanage in Dorset for the first time in 37 years.

The Purbeck Pioneer departed from Victoria station at 0845 BST and arrived just after 1400 BST.

It ran on the Swanage Railway, from Wareham to Corfe Castle and Swanage. The line was shut in 1972 and has since been restored by enthusiasts.

It is the first passenger service to run the complete London to Swanage route since 1 January 1972.

After shutting the Purbeck branch line, British Rail lifted seven miles of track south of Furzebrook that summer.

Swanage Railway Trust's first locomotive arriving in 1976 (Andrew P M Wright collection)
Swanage Railway Trust have spent more than 30 years reviving the line

Campaigners from the Swanage Railway Trust fought for the line to be rebuilt and watched it grow mile by mile over the years.

They have been running trains on parts of their preserved line for some years but it was the first complete through service.

They said the demand for tickets for the first train had been so big they are running a second train on Thursday.

Moyra Cross, 87, was one of the original campaigners and has spent the last 40 years volunteering for Swanage Railway and working in the station shop at Swanage to help raise funds.

She said: "I am so glad that I have lived long enough to see and enjoy it."

Peter Sills, 51, and his 86-year-old father Frederick, a retired engineer, were among the last 500 passengers to travel from Wareham to Swanage on New Year's Day in 1972.

The pair, from Wareham, were travelling on Wednesday's service from Wareham to Swanage and back.

Peter said they would be carrying their last tickets from 1972, which cost 25p for a child and 50p for an adult.

Swanage railway station in 1981 (Andrew P M Wright collection)
It took British Rail seven weeks to lift the tracks to Swanage in 1972

He added: "Riding on that last train from Wareham to Swanage as a 15-year-old was a very sad occasion because everyone thought the railway was gone for good.

"What a contrast from the sadness of 37 years ago because I'm sure this first train from London to Swanage will be the first of many."

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

The train travelled from London Victoria station via Guildford, Petersfield, Fareham, Southampton, Brockenhurst, Bournemouth and Poole to Wareham.

It then left the London to Weymouth main line at Worgret Junction and ran 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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