POOLE Park railway could be back open by autumn this year, according to council chiefs.

The popular attraction has been out of action for almost three years following derailments, service interruptions and a mass walkout by railway staff.

Last year, BCP Council was forced to review the funding for the project having taken the operation in-house.

In September 2020, the local authority said work had been shelved due to the pandemic but an update would be given to residents later in the year.

No such update came, but the council has now to confirmed to the Daily Echo that after additional funding was agreed by cabinet members and a grant secured from The Parks Foundation, a new tender for a track and engine shed will be launched.

If this process goes smoothly, civic leaders hope to have the railway operational by autumn.

Cllr Mark Anderson, BCP Council portfolio holder for environment, cleansing and waste, said: “The Poole Park Railway has always been a very popular attraction for local families, tourists and train enthusiasts, and I have my own personal memories of enjoying many a day out there with my family.

"We recognise this facility means a lot to local people which is why we have included this as part of our Vision for our Future and Big Plan commitment, rejuvenating Poole and bringing vibrant and attractive green spaces to the heart of Poole.

"Restoring this iconic local attraction will help us work towards this aspiration and I am delighted that as part of our proposed budget setting we are able to prioritise moving forward these plans to bring the Poole Park Railway back into operation.”

Planning permission for the demolition and replacement of the engine shed was granted in August 2019.

Initial tenders were returned for the new railway track, engine shed and rolling stock in December 2019 with a view to having the railway open by summer last year, however this came and went.

Former environment portfolio holder Cllr Felicity Rice said the council had been forced to review the finances of the scheme after "market forces had changed".

The railway service had been running under private management in Poole since 1949.

In April 2017, former local authority, Borough of Poole, awarded the contract to run the service to the Friends of Poole Park (FoPP), but after a number of false starts, the charity failed to meet a council ultimatum and the contract was terminated.