It’s only for one weekend but Swanage Railway is inviting members of the local community to peek behind the scenes of the branch line and enjoy the experience of a heritage train trip at a discounted rate.
After many months of closure and restrictions due to the pandemic, Swanage Railway is finally able to throw open the doors for a community engagement weekend on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th February 2023.
The 1940s Southern Railway Battle of Britain Class Bulleid Pacific express steam locomotive No. 34070 Manston. Hop on at a discounted rate for locals
Inspire more to get involved with the railway
Taking place between 10 am and 4 pm on the Saturday and Sunday, the two open days will be a chance for the public to experience the excitement of going behind the scenes of the working heritage railway at Swanage and Corfe Castle stations.
It’s hoped that the event will inspire more to get involved in helping to run and maintain Swanage Railway.
The 1950s heritage Class 08 shunting diesel locomotive that can be driven for a fiver
‘Driver for a fiver’ opportunity
At Swanage station, the public will be able to board the footplate of a steam locomotive, drive a 1950s heritage Class 08 shunting diesel locomotive for £5 – subject to a health and safety declaration – and see where heritage carriages are restored and overhauled.
At Corfe Castle station, visitors will be able to see the award-winning signal box – a replica of the original Victorian signal box dating from 1885 when the Wareham to Swanage branch line opened – which signals trains on and off the national railway network at Worgret Junction, a mile west of Wareham.
Pulling the levers at Corfe Castle station
Chance to have a go at signalling
The public will have the chance to have a go at signalling trains in the signal box museum at Corfe Castle which was the station’s British Railways signal box for 15 years from 1956 and signalled the last British Rail train from Swanage to Wareham in 1972.
There will also be a steam train service between Norden, Corfe Castle, Harmans Cross, Herston and Swanage set to be hauled by 1940s steam locomotive Manston.
Go further up the line to the water meadows, within sight of Wareham
Train service up to the River Frome
With Swanage Railway on the brink of operating a trial passenger service from Swanage up to the main line at Wareham, there will be an opportunity to take a special heritage diesel train service between Norden and the River Frome, within sight of Wareham.
Subject to providing proof of residence in the BH19 and BH20 postcode areas, Purbeck residents will be able to purchase discounted Freedom of the Line train tickets, subject to availability, at station ticket offices during the special weekend giving unlimited train travel on the day of purchase – £10 for adults and £5 for children.
Normal train ticket prices apply for passengers not living in the BH19 and BH20 areas.
Robert Patterson, chair of the Swanage Railway Company in the cab of a diesel locomotive
“There’s loads of opportunities for everyone”
Robert Patterson, chair of the Swanage Railway Company – which runs the trains for the Swanage Railway Trust – said:
“This is a chance for local people to come and enjoy their railway and see what goes on behind the scenes. I hope that by offering a heavily discounted train fare for locals it will help more people to appreciate the work of the railway and what it contributes to the community.
“I think the ‘driver for a fiver’ will be very popular and a complete bargain. It’s rare to be offered the opportunity to drive a diesel loco for just £5!
“If anyone comes along and wants to get more involved in the future, then that will be great. There’s loads of opportunities for everyone.”
The platform at Swanage station
“An enjoyable and rewarding experience”
Swanage Railway is keen to point out that it contributes an estimated £15 million a year into the local economy as well as taking 6,000 cars a year off the A351 road between Corfe Castle and Swanage. And it’s the volunteers who keep the railway service going.
Swanage Railway Trust chair Gavin Johns added:
“Volunteering is a great way to contribute to the community and become involved in something rewarding, enjoyable, social and worthwhile. Swanage Railway volunteers don’t need to be train enthusiasts to enjoy themselves and we have a wide range of positions available.
“Our aim is to ensure that our volunteers have an enjoyable and rewarding experience while making an important contribution to Purbeck life – both for residents and visitors alike.”
Lots of repair work needs to be done at Swanage Railway