Volunteers who have worked tirelessly – for more than 20 years – to rebuild the infrastructure required to return trains to the main line at Wareham from Swanage and Corfe Castle are celebrating after winning a national award.
Praising “an incredible project”, the Manisty Award for Excellence from the Heritage Railway Association comes as the Swanage Railway runs nine months of steam train services between Norden, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross and Swanage during 2018.
Swanage Railway volunteers currently operate steam trains at weekends with steam trains daily running from the end of March to the end of October and during weekends in November before the pre-booked ‘Santa Special’ steam trains in December.
The Swanage Railway’s first year of trains to Wareham – on 60 days using contractors who supplied the trains, drivers and guards – took place during the summer of 2017.
The second year of trains to Wareham is set to take place during 2019 – on 90 selected days – with Swanage Railway drivers and guards operating two 1960s heritage diesel trains that are being restored and upgraded to main line standards by contractors.
A Heritage Railway Association spokesman said: “This prestigious award recognises the huge effort over many years to restore passenger services over the full length of the line from Swanage to Wareham – an incredible project that restored a public service.”
Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said: “Named after Peter Manisty – an important founding father of the heritage railway movement – the award for excellence in returning a train service to the main line at Wareham is an accolade that everyone on the Swanage Railway is very proud and delighted to receive.
“It’s very gratifying to receive this important recognition of our work from our peers in the heritage railway movement.
“Our success in returning trains to Wareham has been possible through the help and support of our stakeholders in the Purbeck Community Partnership – including Purbeck district and Dorset county councils, Perenco, Network Rail as well as South West Trains and now the South Western Railway,” he added.
Swanage Railway Company chairman Trevor Parsons explained: “Returning trains to Wareham has involved the Swanage Railway completing several complicated, detailed and challenging projects over more than five years.
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