The first season of the Swanage to Wareham service

Earlier in the year we published an article on the new Swanage to Wareham service The 2017 trial diesel service between Swanage and Wareham finished on Sunday 3rd September 2017 and here is a statement from Mark Wooley, Director at the Swanage Railway Company.

“The full reinstatement of this fine branch line has been a 45 year struggle. The culmination of this effort – by many dedicated people – has only been possible through capital grant aid in recent years totalling £5.56m received through the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership (PCRP) from local authorities, the Department for Communities & Local Government’s Coastal Communities Fund and from oil giant BP.

No. 6695 leaving Swanage station

A sizeable proportion of this (£3.2m) was invested by Dorset County Council and Purbeck District Council in Network Rail’s recent Poole to Wool re-signalling scheme which ensured passenger train access to and from the Swanage branch at Worgret Junction, and avoided prohibitive standalone project costs at a later date.

This level of investment represents a great act of faith in the long-standing project to reinstate a Swanage to Wareham train service and is very welcome. However, whilst the sum involved is large by heritage railway standards, it is something of an exceptional case and also far below the levels of investment required to implement a full service in the short term; a situation that, by coincidence, Christian Wolmar laments in his article in the same edition of RAIL.

It is also important to bear in mind that, vital though this grant aid has been to the Swanage Railway and the PCRP, the new service is being operated without any revenue support. Under the terms of a recently signed 99-year lease with Dorset County Council (owners of the freehold of most of the Swanage branch), the Swanage Railway has been obliged to operate a two-year trial service on 60 selected days in year one and 90 selected days in year two.

In year one, the service comprised four return trips a day at two-hourly intervals and was delivered as cost-effectively as possible by utilising a single staff shift and an integrated fare structure. Mindful of the need to avoid fare abstraction, the latter has been well received by many passengers because it allowed the ability to break a journey at Corfe Castle before travelling on to Swanage by heritage steam service. The fare, which for many was discountable, never attracted serious concerns.

The new Swanage to Wareham service is by definition a limited trial and will therefore not be optimal from the outset. We are very pleased with the first year of the trial service and our official footfall figures indicate a total passenger figure of over 13,000 for the 60 days of operation. This compares well with the PCRP’s target of 12,000 passengers.  Surveys indicate that a high proportion of our passengers arrived and/or departed from Wareham by rail.  Feedback received from South Western Railway tells us that Wareham station ‘entries and exits’ data for the 12-week period of the trial shows a significant increase over the same period in 2016.  This was a key objective of the new service and is something to be proud of.

We look forward to delivering a 90 selected day trial service in 2018 and it is likely that there will be changes to the timetable and additional discount schemes made available for this.”

Useful weblinks:

Swanage Railway

Did you work on the railway at Fakenham?

Fakenham East station and Maltings

Did you used to work on the railway in the Fakenham area? If you did then it would be really good to hear from you please.

Bridge 1715 looking towards Fakenham East station

As part of the recent National Lottery funding we received for our project at Fakenham: http://norfolk-orbital-railway.co.uk/national-lottery-supp…/ We are looking to carry out interviews with those of you who have memories of your times with the railway.

If you would like to be involved then please email Paul at: projectofficernor@yahoo.co.uk or call 07796 807059.

Photographs with thanks to:
http://fakenhamcommunityarchive.weebly.com/railways.html

 

 

Class 37 No: 37688 Diesel locomotive joins the Mid Norfolk Railway

The Mid Norfolk Railway has taken delivery of its latest loco to join the fleet, owned by DO5 Preservation Ltd ex-DRS Class 37 No 37688 roared into Wymondham mainline at lunch time on Monday 27th March 2017.

This was followed by a display of power as it ran over the cross over and back into the station. It then proceeded onto the MNR metals and into Wymondham Abbey run round loop to await collection by senior MNR driver Melvyn Cole for the final part of its journey with the run into Dereham.

More information on Class 37 No: 37688 here: 37688

With thanks to Andy Marrison for the report and photographs,

Audio: Railway Artist – Wrenford J Thatcher

Wrenford has been painting railway scenes for as long as he can remember, both his grandfathers were engine drivers and he developed a passion for steam trains.  His paintings are very atmospheric and Wrenford has gained a reputation as one of the area’s top railway artists.

Wrenford J Thatcher (left) and Andy Sullivan, Norski Noo Gallery

Wrenford lives in the Norfolk Orbital Route at Sheringham and is a frequent visitor to the nearby North Norfolk Railway .  He is a very busy artist and attracts a lot of work through commissions.

On 25th February 2017, he joined Andy Sullivan of the Norski Noo Gallery at Dereham Memorial Hall, for the 18th Model Dereham Railway exhibition.  It was as always a popular day with trains running on the Mid Norfolk Railway.

Paul Young, project officer for the Norfolk Orbital Railway went along and interviewed Wrenford, who gives us a fascinating insight into his work and you can hear it here:

Working with Norski Noo Gallery, we are delighted to be able to offer a limited selection of signed prints of Norfolk Railway stations in and around the Orbital route. A percentage of the proceeds will go towards funding this project. To view the prints and for more details please click on this link: Norski Noo Gallery

Recent meeting with the Office of Rail and Road at Holt

On Monday 13th February 2017,  David Bill (Director), Joe Penfold (Holt Liaison) and Paul Young (Project Officer) members of the Norfolk Orbital project met with Steve Turner from the Office of Rail and Road, who deals with all the Heritage Railways in the UK.

Steve Turner, Office of Rail and Road

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the development of the rail route into Holt and identify the issues. The crossing at the Old Cromer Road was considered to be the first priority.  A traffic survey is to be conducted and then a business case for a crossing is to be put to ORR for consideration.  The business case is to outline the safety aspects, traffic use and benefits to the town of installing it. Crossings are not popular due to the number of fatalities so it has to be a strong case. We would obviously need to consult with Holt Town Council and the NNR to gauge their views.  So it would be a well rounded proposal and would not be a stand alone. If a crossing is not approved then options would be a tunnel or a bridge.

The view across the old Cromer Road to the Norfolk Orbital site

Clearances were then noted and in places they do appear to be ‘tight’ in one area with the numerous new developments currently under construction.  However with the measurements that have been taken this pinch point should be workable.  We are waiting confirmation from ORR as to their requirements and then we can go to Norfolk Highways and Holt Town Council to discuss.  The footprint of the new roundabout currently being constructed on the Holt bypass will not encroach onto the rail corridor.  It would of been helpful if this roundabout could of been offset to the East by a few metres but this request was not factored in so we will have to work with it.

Part of the Orbital trackbed

A public consultation was also suggested as being set up to gauge the current feeling of support within the local community.  This would need to be done working closely with Holt Town Council and Norfolk Highways.  The current Orbital project has been running now for almost twenty years and public opinion has been tested in this time with mixed results.  It has to be remembered that the Orbital project is being run solely by a small and dedicated voluntary team, many who have other commitments and full time jobs.  If there is a high level of support then funding options for staffing the project could be considered as an option.

Useful weblink:

Office of Rail and Road

Audio: Hunslet 3193

There are some interesting projects taking place along the Orbital route.  One excellent example is the Hunslet 3193,  a steam locomotive undergoing restoration in the goods yard at Yaxham railway station by members of the Norfolk Heritage Steam Railway Ltd.

One of our website editors, Paul Young, met up recently with two members of the Norfolk Heritage Steam Railway Ltd.  Chairman Charlie Cooley and Secretary/Treasurer David Bramhall.

Listen to their conversation here:

For more information, please click on the weblinks below:

Norfolk Heritage Steam Railway Ltd.

Hunslet 3193 photographs

There is also a Facebook page: Hunslet 3193