By Cedric Johns
WORKING the last of Railway Touring Company’s south coast summer trains, ‘The Swanage Belle’, A4 4-6-2 No. 60009 Union of South Africa’s path was hit by operational problems that at one stage threatened the train’s arrival at its destination on Thursday, September 13.
The day began with South Western Railway cancelling its eastbound Weymouth-Waterloo trains because of a signal failure in the Weymouth area.With Network Rail on the site, the line between Weymouth and Bournemouth was closed and passengers were advised that services would be resumed in
mid-morning, the time when the ‘Belle’ had already departed from London Victoria for the Dorset coast.
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Mid-morning arrived and with it an announcement that westbound Waterloo-Weymouth trains would be terminated at Bournemouth.
By now the ‘Belle’ was well on its way and with the clock ticking, the question of whether the special train would reach Swanage added to the troubled proceedings.
From RTC’s point of view, Bournemouth would be an acceptable and convenient alternative and in any case some passengers had booked through to the cosmopolitan resort. As a bonus, the morning sun shone from bright blue skies.
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