The heritage railway from Swanage to Norden, that’s been closed since the start of lockdown, is to reopen but in line with coronavirus guidelines it won’t be quite back to normal.
The railway that has been facing a cash crisis during the pandemic, has now announced plans to operate trips on the railway’s heritage diesel locomotives, starting and finishing at Swanage Railway Station from Saturday 11th July 2020
The journeys will be limited to pre-booked round trips and passengers won’t be able to get on and off at the usual stops like Corfe Castle, but it will allow people to enjoy travelling through the Purbeck countryside.
There will be four departures a day from Swanage Railway Station at 10.30 am, 12 noon, 1.30 pm and 3 pm.
“Can’t wait to welcome you back!”
A spokesperson for Swanage Railway said:
“It’s with great pleasure we can announce we’re reopening from Saturday 11th July and can’t wait to welcome you back!
“We’ve limited our capacity to guarantee social distancing is maintained and are so grateful to even be in a position to operate our trains again. In the fight for our survival this additional source of income is a bonus but it won’t fix the immediate problems caused by COVID-19 so we’re not back to strength just yet.
“Either riding our trains, visiting the shop or buying online and donating to our appeal will help the long term saviour of our service in these unpredictable times.”
Immediate cash crisis
When the railway had to close down in March 2020, in accordance with government guidelines to help stop the spread of coronavirus, it was right at the start of the tourist season.
This meant that it faced an immediate cash crisis with no income coming in but still having to cover its costs including rents, insurance and the salaries for staff that had to be retained to do essential maintenance and security.
So even while it was not operating, the running costs have still been in the region of £46k a month, despite furloughing most of its staff.
Now raised over £225,000
Swanage Railway quickly realised that if it was to survive the crisis it had to start fundraising, so it launched the Save Our Service appeal. Due to a huge effort and many generous donations, this has now raised over £225,000 but it still hasn’t reached its target of £360,000.
So it’s important for the railway to start operating again and to start bringing in some income, despite the limited circumstances.
Plans for the future
In the future its hoped to get a service starting from Norden as well as Swanage and by August, the plans may well include getting the steam hauled trains back in operation.
This video by Swanage Railway explains what passengers should expect when they visit.
Trips can be pre-booked on one of the heritage diesel trains from Saturday 11th June to Friday 17th June 2020.
To donate to the Save Our Service appeal.