Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 16:10 UK

Passenger steam train runs again


A steam-hauled train last made the trip in 1967

A steam train has taken passengers from London to Swanage in Dorset for the first time in over 40 years.

The last steam-hauled passenger train took enthusiasts on a rail tour of the Swanage Railway in 1967.

British Rail shut the Purbeck branch line, from Wareham to Swanage, in 1972 and lifted seven miles of track.

The line has since been restored by enthusiasts. The steam-hauled train left London Victoria in the morning and reached Swanage early in the afternoon.

'Against the odds'

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

Mike Whitwam, Swanage Railway Trust chairman, said: "The first steam trains between London and Swanage is something that several generations of determined Swanage Railway volunteers have been working towards, against all the odds, for almost 40 years."

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

History was also made on 1 April when the first passenger through train since 1972, called the Purbeck Pioneer, went from London to Swanage.

Trains have been running on parts of the preserved line for some years but these are the first complete through services.

After Saturday's service arrived at Swanage, a diesel engine was set to take the train back to London Victoria.

On Bank Holiday Monday, a diesel engine will take the service from London Waterloo to Swanage, where the steam engine will then take the train back to Waterloo.

A 1940s-built Southern Railway Bulleid Pacific steam locomotive, named Tangmere after the West Sussex Battle of Britain airfield, was used to pull the 12-coach Dorset Coast Express train.

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