SWANAGE railway station will officially reconnect to the mainline rail network next month - with public trains returning to the branch line 45 years after British Rail shut it down.

The volunteer-led Swanage Railway will be operating the two year trial service, linking Swanage and Corfe Castle to Wareham railway station, following a £5.5 million investment.

Swanage Railway Company chairman Trevor Parsons said: "This is the culmination of a far-sighted investment by our shareholders. We are working very closely with our partners at Network Rail and South West Trains to finalise arrangements for what is a complex operation."

It has been a dream of the Swanage Railway to restore a service linking to the Weymouth-Waterloo line ever since the branch line was ripped up in 1972.

The dream will become a reality in less than a month - on Tuesday, June 13. This first train running from Swanage to Wareham will mark the start of the trial public service using diesel trains operating on 60 selected days during the summer.

There will be four trains a day in each direction between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage.

Visitors from Weymouth, Dorchester, Bournemouth, London, and stations across the country, will be able to visit Swanage and Corfe Castle by train with the service enabling tourists in campsites around Wareham to visit Corfe and Swanage by rail.

People wishing to travel on this service are advised that tickets have to be purchased in advance from the Swanage Railway website - tickets are only being sold for the service by the Swanage Railway.

Main line train operator West Coast Railways is supplying two diesel locomotives and train crews to operate the trial service.

The service was due to start last year but was hit by delays.

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns explained: "This is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work by our dedicated volunteers and the support of our valued stakeholders. It shows just what can be achieved thanks to a strong vision, determination and working together in partnership.

"My thanks go to the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership, the Government's Coastal Communities Fund for its £1.8 million grant, Purbeck District Council (PDC), Dorset County Council, Network Rail, South West Trains and the Department for Transport for their help in reaching this historic milestone for Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck."

County Hall and PDC invested £3.2m in the scheme between them, which enabled Network Rail to upgrade the track at Worgret Junction and install new signalling equipment.