• Swanage reopens

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by george matthews
The first regular train service from Wareham to Swanage opened today. There are said to be four trains a day. The through trains are diesel powered, in addition to the more numerous steam trains travelling only from Swanage to just beyond Corfe Castle. It was featured on the BBC local news.

I am thinking about going down tomorrow. I may take a regular electric train from Poole to Wareham and there change to the Swanage train.
http://www.swanagerailway.co.uk/wareham ... leandfares
It has taken a long time to reach this stage. When I was on leave from teaching in Africa and the Middle East in the 1970s I remember first seeing the line when it was only a few hundred yards. Now the full ten miles has opened.
  by george matthews
As all the through trains are fully booked I will not be going today - Wednesday.

But at last, after 42 years, the railway to Swanage is doing what it was built to do, taking people to the holiday resort, if only 4 times a day.
  by David Benton
In many countries , 4 times a day would be great .
  by george matthews
David Benton wrote:In many countries , 4 times a day would be great .
In a semi suburban area it is rather inadequate to attract regular usage. However it is an experiment to see whether there is real demand. We shall see.
  by george matthews
On Thursday I did go down to Wareham on the train from Poole. At the station I saw that the Swanage railway people had set up a ticket selling counter in the car park. Thinking there might be too many people for the train I had booked a place on the web site. At the ticket sellers I waited in line to be issued a ticket. They were rather slow and not very well organised but eventually they found my booking and issued a ticket. The train was very far from being crowded.

Next I waited to see the train arrive. I had thought it might be a DMU as the Swanage railway has several in their stock list. But in fact it was a number of carriages with two diesel engines, one at either end. It would not be easy to have a single loco run round at Wareham station and would block two tracks if they did that. I am puzzled that they couldn't issue a ticket for Wednesday as the train had such a large capacity. Maybe there was a very large crowd then.

Anyway, for the first time for about 50 years I was on a train that left the main line. I got off at Corfe Castle and visited the museum there and then took the usual steam train down to Swanage.

Is it a success? I think they will probably attract people from the main line though I don't think they will attract many who would otherwise take the bus. The fare is quite a lot more and the train is not that much faster than the bus. Moreover at only 4 trains a day it does not compare well with the hourly bus service. It might be more attractive when the Summer rush occurs on the road, making it rather slower.

We shall see how this new service goes and whether it will attract normal travellers. Personally, I think a DMU would be more attractive to normal travellers rather than the elderly carriages hired from West Coast trains. And I think they should try to start their Swanage trains in Bournemouth, where there is an unused platform they could use.
Last edited by george matthews on Thu Jun 15, 2017 7:13 pm, edited 5 times in total.
  by David Benton
Thanks for the report , George. I'll have a look on google earth later to see the route.
  by george matthews
David Benton wrote:Thanks for the report , George. I'll have a look on google earth later to see the route.
Of course I don't know what discussions they have had with Network Rail and South West trains. Network Rail have to be paid for access to the track. Probably access to Bournemouth would cost a lot more than access only to Wareham. SW Trains might object to a competitor for traffic from Bournemouth to Wareham, or might demand a share of the ticket revenue. Both of these might make it unrealistic for a through train to Swanage. Maybe there could be an agreement for people embarking at Bournemouth not to leave the train anywhere on Network Rail's property: i.e only on Swanage Rail's property.

But I do think that for people who are not rail enthusiasts a DMU, even a heritage model, might be more attractive - and cheaper to run - than the present train. The present train has two diesel locomotives which have far more power - and demand for oil - than a DMU. As far as I know Swanage Rail owns several heritage DMUs and has used them in the past for late night trains to the former terminus for the benefit of campers. I don't know if any of them are passed for running on the main line.
  by george matthews
The absence of the DMUs is mentioned here:
The Heritage DMUs will be delivered back to the Swanage Railway late Summer 2017.
http://www.swanagerailway.co.uk/wareham ... leandfares
I believe they are being modified to make them compliant with Network Rail's standards.
  by johnthefireman
Presumably they'll have to have the onboard monitoring equipment fitted, as well as whatever system of automatic signal detection and braking they use on Network Rail in that area, and in-cab communication.
  by george matthews
johnthefireman wrote:Presumably they'll have to have the onboard monitoring equipment fitted, as well as whatever system of automatic signal detection and braking they use on Network Rail in that area, and in-cab communication.
As they have been on the Swanage line for many years, and during that time mainline standards have changed, the heritage DMUs were probably no longer compliant.

If they want to continue picking up people in Wareham, DMUs would be the cheapest option and would be more suitable than the present train, hired from West Coast trains.

When the Swanage line was operated by BR in steam days, the Swanage train started from a bay platform on the same side as the arrival from London, so passengers could cross the platform. I can assume that to use that platform there had had to be a fair amount of shunting to get the steam engine at the appropriate end. However, whereas Wareham had had two bay platforms in those days, nowadays there are none. I can't remember if in those days the arriving Swanage train ended on the London side so passengers could cross on to London bound trains without climbing the foot bridge. In that case the train would have backed out and the loco would have changed ends before returning to the Dorchester side. It did mean that when the westbound train arrived the Swanage train was waiting just across the platform. Nowadays it has to enter from Worgret junction so there is a delay.

But as there is only a fairly sparse service on the mainline with one hour's delays, it is quite suitable to use the remaining platform for Swanage trains.
Last edited by george matthews on Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by johnthefireman
george matthews wrote:the heritage DMUs are probably no longer compliant.
That's my point. In fact the heritage DMUs would never have been compliant as the requirement for on-train monitoring equipment did not exist in those days. They would not have had any in-cab communication, and it's unlikely that their existing automatic warning and braking equipment would be compatible with modern standards. All this kit will have to be fitted to the heritage DMUs, just as it has been fitted to heritage steam locomotives and classic diesels in order for them to be mainline-certified.