COUNCIL chiefs are hoping to introduce a “brand-new” train on Poole Park Railway in time for summer 2020 – a year later than initially hoped.

The popular facility first operated in the park in 1949, however the service was suspended due to what BCP Council have described as “growing complications”.

Trains have not run on the line since May 2018.

Now the local authority has reaffirmed its commitment to providing up to £350,000 to secure the long-term future of the railway.

Tenders have been invited for delivering a new track, engine shed and rolling stock. Submissions had to made by Thursday evening.

A statement issued by BCP Council said: “Plans to reopen it in time for Summer 2020 include several enhancements to the service, with a redesigned and relayed track, a brand-new train and carriages, improved access and safety features and improvements to the train shed and storage compound.

“Planning permission for the demolition and replacement of the existing engine shed was previously granted in August.

“When the service reopens, it will be managed by BCP Council staff working alongside dedicated local volunteer enthusiasts.”

As previously reported, the now abolished Borough of Poole (BOP) had agreed to invest £350,000 into the railway in October 2018, with a view to having it running again by summer 2019 – a target that came and went.

In June 2018, council bosses terminated their contract with the Friends of Poole Park (FoPP) after the charity was put on notice and the service suspended following derailments and a mass walkout by volunteers and staff.

The FoPP charity had been awarded the contact to operate the attraction the previous year, but BOP decided to bring the railway back under council control to ensure its future.

Earlier this year BCP Council’s recreation manager, Anthony Rogers, said it was an “exciting time” for Poole Park and that the local authority was committed to ensuring the railway is operational as soon as possible.

The contract listing for the new rolling stock detailed that the council require an electric engine with three carriages, with a separate tender for the track and engine shed.

The track requirement is 12 ¼-inch gauge to replace the narrower failed track and the shed will be 18 metres long, larger than the existing structure, to safely house the new rolling stock.

While the update on the miniature railway suggests it will return next year, it was announced last month that the traditional Hengistbury Head noddy trains are to be sold after an investigation concluded they are not safe.

The much-loved green trains could be replaced by battery-run or hybrid land trains following the decision taken by BCP Council.

But there will be no service from January 5 until the school half term in February.