POOLE Park Railway is set to be back to celebrate its 70th anniversary this year.

The park was without one of its favourite attractions for most of last year after Poole council ended the contract of the charity running the railway.

But the borough has said the trains will return during the attraction’s anniversary year – although not in time for the day of the anniversary, April 9.

A more detailed announcement is expected in the coming days, but the council is believed to be on course to keep the assurance it made last autumn that the trains would return for the summer.

The tiny railway – with half a mile of track along which trains travel at 5mph – has in recent years seen enough drama for a national rail franchise.

In 2017, Borough of Poole ousted the railway’s operator of 13 years, Chris Bullen, after tendering the opportunity to run the attraction.

The council awarded a 30-year contract to the Friends of Poole Park – only to terminate it less than a year later, following derailments and a mass walkout of volunteers and staff.

The ending of the contract last May left the park without trains for the rest of the year. Councillors later backed plans to take the railway back into council ownership and invest £350,000 in it.

They were told that the track had “failed in numerous sections” and was “not fit for purpose and needs to be replaced”.

Borough of Poole would also need to buy a new engine and carriages, councillors were told.

Poole Park railway was started in 1949 by George Vimpany, originally using a real steam engine.

It survived moves in the 1970s to insist on fences around the railway track, as well as a proposal to tear up the railway and replace it with a new road in the late 1980s.

Ronnie Barker rode a specially constructed carriage on the railway in an episode of The Two Ronnies in 1982, while Alexei Sayle was seen on the train in his Alexei Sayle’s Stuff series in the early 1990s.

George Vimpany’s widow Beryl, then aged 91, was on hand to officially reopen the railway in July 2017, at the start of its short spell in the hands of the Friends of Poole Park.