Page last updated at 01:17:03 PM GMT ,Monday, 8th February 2016

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Record-breaking year for Swanage Railway after carrying 217,000 passengers

SWANAGE Railway volunteers are celebrating after carrying a record-breaking number of passengers last year - more than 217,000.

The heritage line says that by the end of 2015 around 2,400 steam and diesel-hauled passenger trains had run more than 28,000 miles.

Swanage Railway Company chairman and volunteer train guard and signalman Trevor Parsons said: "Carrying 217,080 passengers during 2015 represents a lot of hard work by the people who run the trains, staff the stations and maintain the line and infrastructure required to keep trains running – day in and day out – for the pleasure of the public.

"Our volunteers and small team of paid staff have worked very hard throughout 2015 to produce such a fantastic result. Everyone is elated.

"While very enjoyable and fulfilling, it takes a great deal of enthusiasm and commitment on the part of many people to run our steam and diesel train services throughout the year."

Last month Swanage Railway's long-standing project to reconnect with the mainline, for the first time in four decades, was delayed for a second time.

Trials between Swanage and Wareham were originally expected to begin last year, but were delayed until this summer.

Swanage Railway heritage line says they will now begin in early 2017 due to upgrade works needed on its diesel trains.

Meanwhile, restoration work has seen 1,200 wooden track sleepers replaced, half a mile of track laid, a quarter-mile-long embankment given a major upgrade, undergrowth and drainage cleared along six miles of embankments as well as the installation of a new set of track points at Furzebrook.

On the company's record-breaking 2015, Swanage Railway general manager Matt Green said: "Last year's passenger total demonstrates the appeal of travelling by steam train on one of Britain's most idyllic heritage railways through the beautiful Purbeck countryside from a castle to the coast.

"Having been rebuilt from nothing since 1976, after being controversially closed and demolished by British Rail in 1972, the Swanage Railway contributes some £14 million to the Purbeck economy every year."

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