THE protracted efforts to bring back the popular Poole Park Railway have stalled once again after the council failed to secure a contingency engine as promised in December.

BCP Council officers expected to receive the new fully electric engine so the service could make its long-awaited return this summer, however, it this has been delayed due to issues “sourcing bespoke machinery”.

The arrival of the new carriages is due “very shortly” despite also suffering delays in acquiring materials.

While work on site to build the new engine shed and track has been completed, efforts are now being made to source a temporary engine to meet an aim of a reopening “later this year”.

In December 2021, BCP Council chiefs told the Daily Echo an interim engine would be sourced to cover any issues with the delivery of the electric engine and to meet the summer reopening date. Six months on and it appears this contingency has not been secured yet.

Cllr Mark Anderson, BCP Council’s portfolio holder for environment and place, said: “Good progress continues to be made at Poole Park Railway, and our contractors have completed works to both the engine shed and tracks.

“Works to improve the fencing, update various elements at the station and some minor groundworks are now being carried out on site.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Mark AndersonCllr Mark Anderson

“We were recently informed that there will be a delay in us taking delivery of the fully electric engine, which is disappointing but reflects the national picture in sourcing bespoke machinery.

“In light of this, we are already making enquiries to source a temporary engine which will allow us to open as expected later this year.

“The train carriages are currently being built off-site and despite some delays in sourcing materials, we expect all of those to be with us very shortly.”

Trains have not called into the station on the Poole Park Railway since 2018 when the council suspended the service after a series of issues, including derailments and staff shortages.

A goal of having the service up and running last year following a drawn out tender process came and went.

Shropshire-based Track Systems was contracted to carry out the on-site part of the £480,000 project. This started in December last year with the removal of the old track.

A haul of around £20,000 worth of machinery was stolen from the Track Systems team working in the park back in February, however, it was said this would not cause any delays to this element of the project.

The rolling stock is due to feature two carriages, one of which will be accessible to wheelchairs and have a roof.

Cllr Anderson said: “The local miniature train community continue to be highly supportive of the developments at Poole Park Railway. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank them all for their support, advice, and encouragement to date.

“We are now looking to recruit new team members to manage the running of this train service. They will support our wonderful group of enthusiastic volunteers, who are ready to support the day-to-day running of Poole Park Railway when it opens.”