PLANS to reopen the Lyme Regis to Axminster branch railway line are back on track - and being heralded as a possible solution to the resort's summer traffic chaos.

The team behind the multi-million-pound project say it could deliver thousands of tourists to Lyme without clogging up the centre with cars and coaches.

And freight could also be brought in by the trains and transferred to smaller vehicles for delivery to local shops.

The latest project to reopen the famous 'Bluebell' line was launched in 2002 with support from business leaders, tourist chiefs and local MPs.

Since then planning has been going on quietly behind the scenes.

This week, David Prosser, the chairman of the Axminster to Lyme Regis Railway Association, moved to reassure supporters that the scheme was still very much alive - and possibly just five years away from becoming a reality.

He said the proposal is to build a 2ft 6ins narrow-gauge community railway leaving Axminster station and passing under the A35 bypass at Musbury Road to join the old track bed.

It would turn right at Gore Lane, Uplyme, and run up Horseman's Hill to finish at the temporary park and ride base on the Lyme Regis to Seaton coast road.

He said: "The narrow gauge provides a system that will 'turn on a sixpence' and make less of a landprint than the old Lyme Billy.

"The locomotion will embrace bio-fuelled steam engines for high days and holidays, diesel for freight and state-of-the-art trams running on LPG (liquid petroleum gas) providing the basic commuter service.

"Freight could be loaded in Axminster and delivered to Lyme, where it could be retrieved by smaller vehicles rather than the heavily-laden trucks that clog up Broad Street.

"Park and ride services are proposed to alleviate the problem of car traffic in Lyme.

"The journey would take about 20 minutes and would complement the bus service rather than compete."

Mr Prosser explained that the Lyme Regis railway plan was just part of a bigger scheme that proposes lines at West Bay and Weymouth, which is being co-ordinated by Nigel Ewens of Brit Valley Railways. The association believes that a large proportion of the cost could be lottery-funded.

He continued: "The association's dream is to see tourists getting on at the Gare du Nord in Paris or the Bannoff in Berlin to Waterloo then travelling to Lyme Regis.

"Students could catch the train to college or university, shopkeepers collecting goods from the station yard. Plus tourists from all over England leaving their cars at park and rides and travelling to Lyme by train.

"We estimate that a minimum of 200,000 people will travel on this railway in the first year."

But Mr Prosser stressed that they were aware of the many problems still ahead and were keeping their feet firmly on the ground.

"The goodwill and permission of land owners is vital and so far we have received a warm response but as yet no formal permission to go on their land has been agreed," he said.

"Feasibility, environmental studies and planning permission will be carried out by international renowned consultants. Local MPs have given the association their support as well as East Devon District and Dorset County councils as we fit in with their transport policies for alternative modes of transport along the Jurassic coast."

To learn more about the Association go to or contact David Prosser on 01297 35560.