Trains From Swanage to Wareham One Step Closer
Trains to Wareham One Step Closer with BP to Pay For a £500,000 Level Crossing Near Corfe Castle
Regular trains from Swanage to Wareham are one step closer with oil giant BP announcing that it is to pay for the construction and maintenance of a crucial £500,000 level crossing on the award-winning Swanage Railway just north of Corfe Castle.
Swanage Railway supporters have been campaigning to re-instate a regular train service between Swanage and Wareham after the last British Rail train controversially ran between the two Purbeck towns on New Year's Day 1972.
The full-barrier level crossing with lights on the access road to the Swanage Railway's Norden Park & Ride station and the Wytch Farm oil field is required before regular trains can run between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage.
The level crossing funding announcement was made by BP's North Sea regional president Trevor Garlick at a special Wytch Farm history celebration evening in Furzebrook village hall.
The £500,000 'legacy' donation comes after BP sold its majority shareholding in, and operation of, the Wytch Farm oilfield north of Corfe Castle – the largest on-shore oilfield in Western Europe – to Anglo-French oil company Perenco during December, 2011.
The Swanage Railway Company's volunteer chairman Peter Sills, from Wareham, said: "This is a very kind and generous legacy act by BP which means that regular trains are one step closer to running between Swanage, Corfe Castle and Wareham for the first time since January, 1972. One of several line improvements required before regular trains can run from Wareham to Corfe Castle and Swanage, the £500,000 Norden level crossing is due to be built by contractors on behalf of – and in liaison with – the Swanage Railway's signalling department with completion due in May, 2013.”
The Swanage Railway's volunteer Project Wareham director Mark Woolley, from Swanage, explained: "The other improvements needed before regular trains can run to Wareham are the re-signalling of Worgret Junction on the main line near Wareham – due to be completed by Network Rail by May, 2013 – and the upgrade of the three-mile Network Rail single line between Worgret Junction and the Swanage Railway at Motala near Furzebrook."
During the recent Wytch Farm history celebration evening, BP North Sea regional president Trevor Garlick said: “BP is delighted to be able to announce our agreement with the Dorset County Council, Perenco, and the Wytch Farm partners to fund the Norden level crossing – a critical milestone in realising plans to reopen the railway line between Wareham and Swanage. We hope this goes some way to improving transport links and reducing traffic congestion for the people in Purbeck and for visitors long term. Wytch Farm is a special part of BP’s history and we are pleased to be able to leave this lasting contribution.”
Currently, only occasional charter trains from other parts of the country to Corfe Castle and Swanage via Wareham use the three-mile Network Rail single line between Worgret Junction and Motala.
Thanks to the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership discussion forum, Dorset and Purbeck councils have pledged up to £3 million for Network Rail to re-signal Worgret Junction so regular trains can run from Wareham to Swanage.
The Worgret Junction re-signalling will be paid for from a transport development fund which property developers in the Purbeck area pay into – the money being collected by Purbeck District Council and spent by Dorset County Council as the transport authority for Purbeck.
Working to re-establish a regular train service from Swanage to Wareham, the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership is composed of the Swanage Railway, Dorset County Council, Purbeck District Council, Network Rail, South West Trains, Perenco and the Borough of Poole.
Mr Garlick made his announcement on Thursday, 19 January, 2012
Photo of the Norden crossing – showing Peter Sills (left) & Mark Woolley (right) of the Swanage Railway – credited to Andrew P.M. Wright.