THE summer reopening of Poole Park Railway may have hit the buffers again – after BCP Council confirmed it is facing “several issues” with the project.

According to the government tender website the contract for installation and maintenance of locomotives and rolling stock for the mini-railway was supposed to start in February 2020, while the contract for the track and the train shed was supposed to commence on Tuesday.

However, it appears little work has taken place on site.

Meanwhile, when asked directly if there had been any delays to the project and if the railway was on target to open this summer, BCP Council fell short of answering these questions directly. Instead, the council released the following comment from Cllr Felicity Rice.

Cllr Rice, the cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “We are still very much committed to delivering a railway for Poole Park including the track, engine shed and rolling stock. We know the Poole Park Railway is treasured by the local community and our priority is to ensure we provide a safe, long term solution for the railway.

“Unfortunately the recent procurement exercise has shown that market forces have changed and we are undertaking an urgent review of the funding situation. As part of this we are investigating options with contractors and partners on ways we can move forward to deliver a Poole Park Railway.”

In December, last year, BCP Council reaffirmed its commitment to the railway – which it is investing up to £350,000 in.

The railway service, which had been running under private management in Poole since 1949, was suspended during 2018 following a number of derailments, service interruptions and even a mass walkout by railway staff.

The council had awarded the contract to run the service to the Friends of Poole Park (FoPP) in April 2017. But after giving FoPP an ultimatum to get the railway up-and-running following a number of false starts, an ultimatum the registered charity was unable to meet, the council terminated the contract and took the railway in-house. Last year a BCP Council spokesman told the Echo: “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.”

Trains have not run on the line now since May 2018.