First Push Pull




Railway history will be made when ‘push-pull’ operated diesel trains return to the relaid Swanage Railway for the first time since the summer of 1971 – just months before British Rail controversially closed the ten mile branch line from Wareham.

And the ‘push-pull’ train operating the historic service will be the three-coach Southern Region Class 421 CIG electric multiple unit No. 1498 which was the last slam door train to run on the Brockenhurst to Lymington branch in Hampshire in May 2010 before modern diesel multiple unit trains took over.

The special ‘push-pull’ trains will be running on the Swanage Railway between Tuesday 7 and Thursday 9 June 2011( inclusive) as well as on Saturday 11 June 2011 – the CIG  making five return trips a day between Norden ‘park and ride’, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross, Herston Halt and Swanage.

The last time that ‘push-pull’ trains operated between Norden and Swanage was during the summer of 1971 and the final months of the British Rail branch line when special ramblers’ trains ran down to Corfe Castle and Swanage.

Regular ‘push-pull’ trains ran between London, Bournemouth, Corfe Castle and Swanage between July 1967 and October 1969 when British Rail withdrew the through service as part of its rundown of the ten mile branch line.

Similar ‘push-pull’ trains also ran on the main line between Bournemouth, Poole, Wareham, Dorchester and Weymouth between July 1967 – when steam traction came to an end in the south of England – and the summer of 1988 when the double track line was electrified.

Owned by the Epping and Ongar Railway in Essex, slam door CIG No. 1498 – the last Lymington ‘slammer’ – will be pushed in one direction on the Swanage Railway, and then pulled in the other, by early 1960s built ex-British Railways Class 33 diesel-electric locomotive No. 33 103 ‘Swordfish’.

Class 33 diesel locomotive No. 33 103 used to operate ‘push-pull’ trains down to Corfe Castle and Swanage during British Rail days as well as on the main line between Bournemouth, Poole, Dorchester and Weymouth.

It is hoped to use slam door CIG electric multiple unit No. 1498 in ‘push-pull’ mode on other days during the summer as part of the Swanage Railway’s diesel and steam train services.

Swanage Railway marketing manager Martin Payne explained: “British Rail introduced ‘push-pull’ diesel trains in June, 1967, after the rationalisation of Swanage station – closure of the signal box and the lifting of the platform run-round loop – which meant locomotives could not run round their trains at the terminal station before returning to Corfe Castle and Wareham.

“A ‘push-pull’ train consists of specially converted coaches pulled by a locomotive in one direction and pushed in the other direction – the driver sitting at the front of the leading coach in a cab from where he can control the pushing locomotive at the other end of the train,” added Mr Payne.

Built by British Rail at York during the early 1970s for the London to Brighton line, South West Trains painted CIG unit No. 1498 in a 1960s British Railways green livery ahead of it working the Lymington branch ‘community railway’ service. After being withdrawn, the CIG unit was sold to the Epping and Ongar Railway in Essex.

Volunteers started to rebuild the award-winning and volunteer-run Swanage Railway from nothing at Swanage station in 1976 and the first trains – a small industrial diesel locomotive pulling just one carriage – ran over a few hundred yards of track at Swanage during August 1979.

From its humble beginnings, the Swanage Railway has grown into an award-winning heritage line that carried more than 210,000 passengers during 2010.