The sound of the steam train whistle will reverberate through the town again soon, as Swanage Railway prepares to resume services as lockdown eases.
The iconic railway will once again carry passengers on its tracks between Swanage, Norden and Corfe Castle when the second phase of lockdown lifts on Monday 12th April 2021.
However, avid train enthusiasts will be able to catch a glimpse of the train in action slightly earlier, as it is set to carry out test runs and staff training sessions ahead of reopening.
Swanage Railway has been given a ‘We’re Good to Go’ certification by the Visit England tourism body, meaning that it satisfies Covid safety standards.
Gavin Johns, Swanage Railway chairman
Train trip is “a wonderful day out”
Swanage Railway chairman, Gavin Johns said:
“The Swanage Railway has a great part to play in giving people a wonderful day out in the Isle of Purbeck – whether it’s to visit Swanage and the beach, Corfe Castle and its magnificent ruins or simply to walk and enjoy the fresh air in the beautiful countryside.
“Our train services and stations are fully Covid-19 compliant with regular cleaning taking place.
“Passengers will still have to wear face coverings on our platforms and trains – unless they are exempt – with hand sanitiser points available on our stations. Children under the age of 11 do not need to wear a face covering.
“We are taking all reasonable steps to ensure that our passengers are safe while travelling with us and passengers can travel with us in the knowledge that all fares go towards supporting the re-built Swanage Railway and ensuring its survival for future generations.”
Steady lockdown lifting
Although the train is set to resume its services in April, not all of the railway’s stops and sites are likely to open at the same time.
While Swanage Railway says it aims to reopen the fund-raising shop at Swanage station on Monday 12th April 2021, not all venues will be able to receive visitors under government rules.
Organisers hope to allow in-train dining, to reopen Corfe Castle station museum and to bring back catering facilities to Swanage and Norden stations from Monday 17th May 2021.
Swanage Railway’s Harman’s Cross station and Herston Halt are set to remain closed until social distancing restrictions are lifted.
Gavin Johns added:
“We recognise the government’s dates for the reduction and final lifting of restrictions are dependent on progress in reducing cases of Covid-19 and we will be looking for confirmation of these dates by the Government nearer the time.
“The dates published by the government give us time to complete essential maintenance work and ensure that everything is prepared for us to complete staff refresher training so that the Swanage Railway is ready to resume its train services when we receive the green light from the government.
Swanage Railway is expected to resume its online booking service from Thursday, 1 April, 2021.
More details can be found on its website.