Swanage Rail link under threat if funding not secured.
* Friday, 05 February 2010
The impact on the Town and the Isle of Purbeck of losing the service in the early ‘70s was dramatic, reconnecting the line would have an equally dramatic positive impact
February 4th 2010:
A Town & Community collectively holds its breath……………..
The much loved Swanage Railway, devotedly restored over the last 30 years is in danger of missing a key deadline to re-connect to the main line as local councils ponder funding issues.
Swanage is on the Dorset Peninsula known as the Isle of Purbeck and is an idyllic Victorian seaside resort, nestling at the eastern gateway to the spectacular World Heritage Jurassic Coast. Access to the region is limited to a single road in through Wareham and Corfe Castle or via the chain ferry at Sandbanks. This limited access has always restricted the number of visitors the region can comfortably support or the ability of local residents to travel to Bournemouth and Poole for work or education.
Having originally been closed in the early ‘70s, a dedicated band of hard working volunteers have spent the last 30 years restoring the line with the fervent hope of achieving a regular service by connecting to the Network Rail system at Wareham. This achievement is now in jeopardy as a key milestone approaches, namely Network Rail’s process planning for future signalling requirements. To achieve this and give it every opportunity of re-connection after 2012, the railway in the form of the Purbeck Rail Partnership needs an investment of £3 million to be committed by the end of February.
Apparent sources of funding from the Swanage Town Council, Purbeck District Council and elsewhere have so far not been forthcoming even though reputedly significant sums of money are invested or held elsewhere.
Informed estimates of the likely increased annual contribution to the local economy of a direct rail link are in excess of £7 million so what better investment could be made in the region’s future?
“The impact on the Town and the Isle of Purbeck of losing the service in the early ‘70s was dramatic, reconnecting the line would have an equally dramatic positive impact on the region from a social, economic and commercial perspective” said Julian Maughan, Vice Chairman of the Swanage & Purbeck Hospitality Association.
Once the investment has been secured, there are still a number of tasks to be funded and completed before the line can be re-opened for regular passenger traffic. However, without inclusion in Network Rail’s Poole to Wool re-signalling scheme for 2012, it is unlikely that such an opportunity will arise for many years. Hence this is the chance of a generation.
A regular rail connection to Wareham will allow people to travel between Purbeck and the rest of the country without using their cars, thus alleviating pressure on the county’s already crowded roads, as well as the environment.
Swanage Railway is already running regular train services over most of the branch. This has a substantial impact on the economy of Purbeck and Dorset. In 2009, Swanage Railway carried a record 224,000 passengers. Furthermore, the first through passenger trains from outside Dorset since 1972 arrived in Swanage with several more planned for 2010. Even these irregular charter trains had a major impact on the local economy as they brought many people into the area, benefitting the retail and hospitality trade in Swanage
For more information please contact Mr Julian Maughan Vice Chairman - Swanage & Purbeck Hospitality Association 01929 423972 / email@example.com