South Western Railway Class 159 train runs onto the Swanage Railway

South Western Railway 159 at Corfe Castle
Credit: Andrew P.M. Wright

The new partnership between South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway began at the weekend linking Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset to Corfe Castle.

Using a Class 158 train, the service made its way from Salisbury to Corfe Castle via Tisbury, Gillingham, Templecombe, Sherborne, Yeovil, Maiden Newton, Weymouth, Dorchester South, Moreton, Wool and Wareham.

The train makes two return trips between Corfe Castle and Wareham before the 4 pm departure to Salisbury, arriving into London Waterloo at 8:19 pm.

The new service means for the first time since October 1969, Corfe Castle has been linked to the Capital thanks to a mainline train service.

The new summer Saturdays South Western Railway train service departs Wareham for Corfe Castle at 11.17am, 12.40pm and 2.40pm with the train leaving Corfe Castle for Wareham at 12.10pm, 2.10pm and 3.45pm.

What did the officials say?

Swanage Railway Company chairman Trevor Parsons said:

“This new summer Saturdays service to Corfe Castle shows what can be achieved through joint working and the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership. We’re delighted at how well the first day went and I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make it happen.

“After the investment in the future grant contributions from the Purbeck and Dorset councils – and the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund – in helping us upgrade the link between the Swanage Railway and the national railway network, we are keen to see the four-mile line between Norden station and Worgret Junction – a mile west of Wareham – used as much as possible,” added the volunteer signalman and train guard.

South Western Railway’s head of service strategy, Chris Loder, said:

The new train service was thanks to a “new ground-breaking partnership” with the Swanage Railway and that the aim was to encourage new rail journeys and boost the Isle of Purbeck’s tourist economy through “great promotional fares”.

“It was astonishing to see so many people coming to Corfe Castle by train from across the region – more than 100 people on the first train alone. Our new partnership with the Swanage Railway will make this innovation a great success. We’ll be gathering feedback to improve the service as much as we can over the summer,” he added.

Purbeck Community Rail Partnership chairman Bill Trite praised the new partnership between the Swanage Railway and the South Western Railway’s – describing the new service to Corfe Castle as:

an “enterprising arrangement” and “a great step forward”.

Swanage Railway Project Wareham director Mark Woolley said:

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with South Western Railway in bringing more people to the Swanage Railway and welcoming trains from the national railway network.

“In addition to running our heritage steam train services between Swanage, Corfe Castle and Norden, we remain committed to operating a 90-day trial diesel train service to Wareham during 2019,” added the long-time Swanage Railway volunteer.

  • SWR could operate a summer service between London Waterloo and Corfe Castle from June till September once a year to promote people to come to Corfe Castle and Swanage during the summer holidays. Despite engineering works and strikes taking place.