A TRAIN that spent years mothballed in a warehouse has arrived at Swindon and Cricklade Railway to replace the one that was destroyed by arsonists last month.

Volunteers who run the railway were heartbroken when the blaze damaged a treasured diesel unit and completely destroyed its carriage.

The pair was so rare they feared they might never be able to replace the trailer.

But after news of the devastating fire spread around the country they were approached by an enthusiast who offered them the unit he had been storing for around ten years in Pershore, Worcestershire.

It finally rolled off a low loader at the Hayes Knoll engine shed on Friday morning.

“It was stored in a big warehouse,” said the group’s publicity officer Adrian Brodie. “That said, the weather has got into it.”

“It is kind of like finding a long lost car in a barn. It’s tatty, it’s dusty and it smells of damp when you go inside it.

“It came off a main line and went straight into storage I think,” he said.

Work to restore the unit would start immediately. “It is just down to time and manpower and the experts need to make their assessments so we can work out exactly what needs doing,” he explained.

The diesel “Thumper” unit and its original carriage spent its working life in Hampshire while the new carriage worked local lines in Berkshire and is still in the old British Rail Network SouthEast livery.

And although the old carriage and the diesel were connected by a corridor, the replacement doesn’t have one.

As a result the door at the rear of the power car, which was damaged by fire anyway, will have to be blanked off.

“What it means is that we will end up with a hybrid multiple unit, which hopefully, will draw the enthusiasts,” said Mr Brodie.

As volunteers prepare to tackle the restoration work, the fire damaged carriage is being dismantled. It made its last journey on Friday, pushed by a shunting engine to the spur at Blunsdon for breaking. A second carriage that arrived with the replacement will be used for spare parts.

The police investigation into the arson attack on May 20 continues. Three box cars full of electrical equipment were also damaged in the fire, which is thought to have burned for some hours before it was discovered.