Historic Swanage Railway goes cashless to save money

Swanage Railway in Dorset, while celebrating a weekend of Victorian locomotive action, has announced it’s to embrace a digital future and won’t be accepting cash at its tills.

From Monday 25th March 2024, Swanage Railway will only accept electronic and card payments for tickets and for purchases in its shop and cafe, although donations will still be accepted in cash.

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Poster at Swanage Railway Victorian weekend

All change for Swanage Railway’s payment system

Visiting loco from Bluebell Railway

The final chance to spend cash at Swanage Railway has been over the Victorian Weekend from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th March 2024, although only decimal currency, not the historically accurate pounds, shillings and pence!

The star of the show has been the Victorian locomotive O1 class No. 65 visiting from the Bluebell Railway in Sussex.

Built in 1896 at Ashford in Kent, the loco made a perfect coupling with the Swanage-based and newly restored T3 class No. 563, which was built in 1893.

Victorian weekend at Swanage Railway
Andrew pm wright

Star of the show O1 class No. 65 is a picture of perfection

Swanage Railway Victorian weekend
andrew Pm Wright

In more than a hundred years of history, it’s believed that these two Victorian locos have never been pictured together before

Rare sight of two Victorian locos

Believed to be the first time that the locomotives have hauled carriages along the same line, they ended up double heading the service between Swanage and Norden.

Swanage Railway is planning to concentrate more on themed events like the Victorian Weekend, to attract much needed income to a tourist attraction that is struggling to pay its way due to spiralling running costs and a squeeze on people’s disposable income.

Moving to a cashless system is estimated to save Swanage Railway more than £10,000 a year.

Victorian weekend at Swanage Railway
Andrew pm wright

These splendid re-enactment soldiers were on a day trip from Nothe Fort in Weymouth

Victorian weekend at Swanage Railway
Andrew pm wright

The New Hardy Players from Dorchester added to the event by reading Thomas Hardy poetry on the trains 

“Save more than £10,000 a year by going cashless”

Swanage Railway’s volunteer commercial director, Robert Patterson, said:

“The decision to have the Swanage Railway Company – which runs our heritage train services – go cashless from Easter, as a trial, reflects the spending trends of the public and has been made after careful consideration and robust examination.

“The public will still be able to donate cash to the Swanage Railway Trust’s museums and its other fundraising activities.

“Cash is expensive to manage, it is a declining source of income for the Swanage Railway and it is estimated that the heritage railway will save more than £10,000 a year by going cashless.

“With cashless payments by the public rising during the pandemic, more than 90 percent of the Swanage Railway’s income is derived from electronic and card payments – a percentage that is likely to increase.

“Thanks to technological improvements, our travelling ticket inspectors can now take card payments from passengers travelling on our heritage steam and diesel trains.

“Against the background of challenging economic times, the Swanage Railway is making every effort to save money so it can invest in the priorities and ensure that the public will be able to enjoy our heritage line through the Isle of Purbeck for generations to come.”

Swanage station at Swanage Railway Victorian weekend

Electronic and card payments only in the booking office from Monday 25th March 2024

Station shop Swanage Railway Victorian weekend

The shop will also stop taking cash payments

Watch Victorian locos in action at Swanage Railway

Further information

More photos

563 Swanage Victorian Weekend
Andrew pm wright
Victorian weekend at Swanage Railway
Andrew pm wright
Victorian Weekend at Swanage Railway
Andrew Pm Wright
Victorian Weekend at Swanage Railway
Andrew Pm Wright
Victorian weekend at Swanage Railway
Andrew pm wright
Victorian weekend at Swanage Railway
Andrew pm wright
Victorian weekend at Swanage Railway
Andrew pm wright
Victorian weekend at Swanage Railway
Andrew pm wright
Victorian weekend at Swanage Railway
Andrew pm wright

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