Commissioning of electronic token system in preparation for trial passenger service to Wareham
A special trip on Dorset’s Swanage Railway has marked the commissioning of ‘electric key-token’ signalling between Corfe Castle and Wareham.
An SWT Class 158 made the trip from the main line down the branch to Corfe on 5 February, with guests including Rail Minister Claire Perry on board.
The signalling implementation is the result of a £3.2 million investment by Dorset County Council and Purbeck District Council and will eventually enable the Swanage Railway to introduce a trial passenger train service from Wareham to the resort in 2016.
The system covers trains running for one mile along the third rail electrified main line from Wareham to Worgret Junction, for three miles along the former Network Rail single line to the start of the Swanage Railway east of Furzebrook, and then onwards to over the SR’s own metals to Corfe Castle. The section between Worgret Junction and Furzebrook is currently being upgraded by the heritage railway in preparation for the trial service.
The branch previously operated using ‘electric key-token’ signalling prior to closure by British Rail in 1972. The modernised version of the system interfaces between the Swanage Railway signal box at Corfe Castle and Network Rail’s signalling control centre at Basingstoke, which oversees trains on the main line through Wareham. Token instruments are provided at Corfe signal box and at Wareham, the latter being operated by drivers.
The trial passenger service was due to begin in September 2015, but the Swanage Railway said this had now been delay and will start in early 2016 and run on 140 selected days over two years. The trial service has been funded by grants of over £1.8 million from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund.