Swanage and Corfe Castle are to welcome their third excursion train in a week from the national railway network – with the latest coming in from London Victoria with some 400 passengers.
The Railway Touring Company’s eleven coach ‘Swanage Belle’ takes to the rails on Thursday, 21 June, 2012, is due to steam into Corfe Castle at 1.16pm before arriving in Swanage at 1.36pm.
Hauling the train will be Britannia class steam locomotive No. 70013 ‘Oliver Cromwell’ which made history when it hauled the last steam train on British Rail during the hot summer of 1968.
The leviathan of steam will be passing the ruins of Corfe Castle; the fortress that Parliamentary forces, led by Oliver Cromwell, captured and destroyed during the English Civil War of the 17th century.
After three and a half hours in Swanage, the train is due to depart the resort at 5pm – calling at Corfe Castle at 5.16pm before returning to the main line at Wareham just after 6pm en route back to London’s Victoria station.
Hauling the long excursion train from Swanage back to the Capital will be Southern Railway Battle of Britain class Bulleid Pacific steam locomotive No. 34067 ‘Tangmere’ named after an important South of England 1940s Battle of Britain airfield.
‘Tangmere’ made history in May, 2009, when the locomotive hauled the first steam train from London to Swanage since the last British Rail steam train ran from London down to the Purbeck resort on Sunday, 18 June, 1967.
Swanage Railway commercial manager Martin Payne said: “Excursion trains bring in an average of 400 people a time to Corfe Castle and Swanage so they are an important commercial opportunity for local businesses.
“The Swanage Railway is doing one of the things that it was built to do in 1885 and that is bringing people to the seaside – something that stopped in 1972 when British Rail controversially closed the line and ripped up the track for scrap,” explained Mr Payne.
Thursday’s ‘Swanage Belle’ is the third long excursion train to visit Corfe Castle and Swanage in the space of just a week.
Last Friday, 15 June, 2012, a luxurious British Pullman train of eleven immaculate umber and cream painted coaches with ornate wooden marquetry and richly upholstered armchairs brought 250 passengers to Corfe Castle and Swanage.
And the previous day, Thursday, 14 June, 2012, a twelve coach Steam Dreams excursion train hauled by brought some 400 passengers to Corfe Castle and Swanage from London.
Martin Payne explained: “The first train to run at Swanage over a few hundred yards of scrap track during the summer of 1979 was made up of just one half painted coach and a small industrial diesel locomotive. British Rail had closed and lifted the line for scrap in 1972.
“Steadily, determined volunteers have rebuilt the Swanage Railway – and the infrastructure needed to operate and maintain it – yard by yard,” explained Mr Payne.
The volunteer-run Swanage Railway contributes around £10 million to the Purbeck economy and profits from the running of train services and special events are ploughed back into the development and extension of the Swanage Railway and its facilities.
Swanage Railway train service and special event details are available by going online and visiting www.swanagerailway.co.uk or by calling the Swanage Railway on 01929 425800.