Choo Choo – the steam train service has resumed between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage.
The Southern Railway 1940s Battle of Britain class Bulleid Pacific No. 34072 ‘257 Squadron’ hauled the first steam train out of Swanage since Tuesday, 29 December.
Swanage Railway trustee and passenger services director Trevor Parsons, who is also a volunteer signalman and train guard on the heritage line said: “Our volunteers and staff have responded wonderfully to the challenge of returning a Covid-safe steam train service and it’s great to see the Swanage Railway again doing what is does best – help to provide people with a wonderful day out in the Isle of Purbeck.”
The Covid-safe fund-raising shop on Swanage station has also re-opened.
The Swanage Railway has been awarded ‘We’re Good to Go’ certification by the Visit England tourism body for demonstrating the heritage railway has met the required level of compliance with its Covid-19 preparations and precautions.
Swanage Railway chairman Gavin Johns said: “It was good to see a gleaming ‘257 Squadron’ head our first passenger train of the season and watch it steam past the magnificent ruins of Corfe Castle.
“The safety of our passengers and staff is always our prime concern and detailed work has gone into our planning for the Swanage Railway’s reopening.”
Trevor Parsons said: “We strongly recommend on-line booking in advance, via our upgraded and improved website, to avoid disappointment as seat numbers are reduced – to ensure the prescribed social distancing – with any unsold seats being available for sale on the day at our Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage station ticket offices.
“Passengers 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.”
Subject to the lifting of Government restrictions, the Swanage Railway hopes to re-open its Corfe Castle station museum, return catering facilities to Swanage and Norden stations and re-introduce its dining trains, in a Covid-safe manner, from 17 May.
The Swanage Railway’s Harman’s Cross station and Herston Halt will remain closed – in compliance with current Government guidance – and are set to re-open when the Government lifts the Covid-19 restrictions regarding social distancing.
The Swanage Railway always welcomes new volunteers and anyone interested in finding out more should contact Swanage Railway volunteer co-ordinator Mike Whitwam on 01929 475212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Up to date train service information is available from swanagerailway.co.uk where tickets can be booked.
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