Project Wareham

There has been tremendous progress on Project Wareham in recent months.  The new signalling scheme between Wareham and Norden, funded by Dorset County Council and Purbeck District Council, entered service in February 2015 and, following completion of a small number of outstanding tasks and final testing, will shortly be fully commissioned.  Donations and further significant grant aid received from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund and from BP has enabled large sections of the permanent way between Norden and our new lease boundary near Worgret to be upgraded, after years of neglect, and an impressive new level crossing and associated road-rail interchange to be constructed at Norden Gates.  

Meanwhile, good progress is being made off-site on completing the extensive overhaul of our BR first generation Class 117 and 121 Diesel Multiple Units.  Whilst delays in completing the DMU wheelsets presents a challenge, the Swanage Railway’s founding objective of reconnecting Swanage with Wareham is now almost within our grasp.  However, we now urgently need your help to finish the job, and enable over 40 years of hard work and sacrifice to finally pay off.              

The grant aid we have received has enabled significant progress to be made on the ground.  The basic upgrade of the railway on our newly leased section between Motala, Furzebrook and Worgret will be largely completed this spring following significant track replacement and embankment strengthening.  This will immediately open up opportunities for Swanage Railway trains, for example ‘Wessex Belle’ and driver experience services, to operate over this new section ahead of the new Wareham passenger service. 

Our ‘Sponsor a Sleeper’ appeal has also raised over £15,000 towards vital upgrade work and we give our sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed to this.  However, whilst the funds raised to date are impressive, some work still needs to be completed in order to bring the run round loop at Furzebrook into full use and enable access to the extensive former BP\Perenco sidings – which we will hopefully complete the lease of later this year.  The opportunity to create dedicated coach storage facilities – some covered in due course - will then present itself.    

Our three-car Class 117 DMU and our Class 121 ‘Bubblecar’ – popular and versatile products of BR’s 1955 Modernisation Plan - continue to receive close attention as part of a highly detailed overhaul to mainline standards at our principal contractors, Arlington Fleet Services in the former Southern Railway Works at Eastleigh.  The DMU wheelsets remain critical elements of the overhaul and we remain in regular contact with our specialist sub-contractors.  In addition to completing the DMUs we also need to fund the construction of an additional inspection pit at Swanage in order to help ensure that the DMUs can be properly maintained and checked whilst ensuring that our existing intensive heritage railway activity is not compromised.

The grant aid the Swanage Railway has towards Project Wareham totals over £2.7m – a significant amount of money by anyone’s standards.  However, we urgently need to raise a further £490,000 to fully complete the job and see Swanage trains regularly operating to and from Wareham for the first time since 1972.  The total involved breaks down roughly as follows: 

Completion of Class 117 and Class 121 DMUs overhaul – main contract


DMU wheelsets – completion and reassembly


Construction of DMU\loco inspection pit at Swanage


Completion of pointwork at Furzebrook



On behalf of the Council of Management and Project Wareham we are therefore appealing for help in raising this money so that passenger trains can once again regularly run between Swanage and Wareham.  Please provide whatever you can to the appeal, using the enclosed form.

Thank you very much indeed for your continuing support.  The plan is to start operating trains to Wareham during summer 2017 so do please look out for detailed announcements regarding this. 

Let us together finally achieve the objective which our pioneers fought for and dreamt of over 40 years ago.  

For more details please see the main Swanage Railway website at:  


The following Newsletters are available for download:




Where People Matter

Watch a video about the contributions made by the volunteers on the railway. Click below to watch it on our YouTube site.


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