Covid-safe Swanage Railway steam train service to resume on Monday 12 April 2021
Covid-safe steam trains – featuring assigned and socially distanced seating – are to resume between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage on Monday, 12 April, 2021, thanks to the lifting of Government restrictions.
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 to keep the public safe.
Covid-safe passenger services ran on the Swanage Railway during 2020, including the successful Steam and Lights festive trains in December.
Swanage Railway chairman Gavin Johns said: “We are delighted that we are able to resume our Covid-safe socially distanced steam train services from Monday, 12 April, 2021, thanks to the lifting of Government restrictions.
“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.
“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.
“The Swanage Railway is Covid-19 compliant with a long-life anti-bacterial spray being used on its trains and stations while the trains are cleaned, and the tables wiped, after every round trip,” added Gavin who is also a volunteer signalman on the heritage line.
Swanage Railway passenger services director Trevor Parsons explained: “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 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,” added Trevor who is also a volunteer signalman and train guard on the Swanage Railway.
It is planned to re-open the fund-raising shop on Swanage station – in a Covid-safe manner – on Monday, 12 April, 2021, subject the availability of volunteers to staff the shop.
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, 2021.
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.
Gavin Johns explained: “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.”
In preparation for the resumption of steam trains, test and staff refresher training trains – not carrying the public – operated on the Swanage Railway from mid-March ahead of the Monday, 12 April, re-opening.
Details of how the Swanage Railway keeps its passengers safe can be found at www.swanagerailway.co.uk/covid-19-passenger-information.
Up to date train service information is available from the Swanage Railway website at swanagerailway.co.uk where train tickets can be booked.
The Swanage Railway always welcomes new volunteers so, for a chat, contact Swanage Railway volunteer co-ordinator Mike Whitwam on 01929 475212 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by Andrew P.M. Wright,
Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.