A DORSET organisation behind the historic reconnection of Swanage to the mainline rail network has won a top national award.

The Purbeck Community Rail Partnership (PCRP) took the top award at the annual Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) community rail awards gala dinner.

PCRP brought together the Swanage Railway, South West Trains, Network Rail, BP Perenco, Borough of Poole, Dorset County Council and Purbeck District Council.

The work of PCRP, building on decades of the effort fro Swanage Railway volunteers, enabled Swanage railway station to reconnect with the mainline at Wareham for a trial period over the summer.

It is planned that this service will return in 2018.

ACoRP chief executive Jools Townsend said: "We are delighted to present this award to Purbeck Community Rail Partnership for their innovative and successful partnership working.

"They have been instrumental in pulling together a huge range of partners to enable this community service to start again, a process that has taken much determination, enthusiasm and collaboration.

"This example demonstrates the important but often unsung role of community rail – community based groups and partnerships around Britain working to engage communities and ensure they get the most from their railways.

"It demonstrates what can be achieved when different parties come together with a passion for bringing about greater mobility, sustainable travel and economic opportunities that can make such a difference to local people."

The award, in the 'Innovation in Community Rail' category, was presented at the gala dinner earlier this month.

It had 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 start of the trial public service, using diesel trains operating on 60 selected days, started in June.