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  • Andrew P.M. Wright

Public can donate by text to Swanage Railway £360,000 ‘Save Our Service’ Coronavirus appeal

The public can now donate by text to the Swanage Railway’s £360,000 ‘Save Our Service’ appeal which has so far raised £152,001 to help the award-winning heritage line survive in the wake of the economic effects of Coronavirus.

Rebuilt since 1976, the popular heritage line between Norden, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross and Swanage – in Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck – carries more than 200,000 passengers a year and contributes more than £15 million to the Isle of Purbeck economy every year.

The ‘Save Our Service’ appeal – at or via the Swanage Railway’s Facebook page – aims to plug the financial hole of the popular heritage railway not running trains until further notice after the Swanage Railway ceased running steam trains in mid-March, 2020.

After being launched on Wednesday, 25 March, 2020, the ‘Save Our Service’ appeal had raised £152,001 by Thursday, 14 May, 2020, towards the target of £360,000.

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said: “The Swanage Railway is facing the most urgent and potentially devastating challenge in its history, due to extraordinary and terrible circumstances beyond its control.

“I would like to thank everyone who has already made a donation to the Swanage Railway’s ‘Save Our Service’ appeal during these extraordinary and challenging times.

“We urgently need the help of the public through donations to our ‘Save Our Service’ appeal because the Swanage Railway is fighting for its very existence.

“Several generations of people have rebuilt the Swanage Railway from nothing since 1976 and there is still so much more to achieve.

“The ‘Save Our Service’ appeal target is £360,000 which – together with grants and Government assistance – will help the Swanage Railway to survive until we are able to again run train services.

“To keep the Swanage Railway in a care and maintenance state, while trains are not running, costs £46,000 a month.

“We have reduced our costs as much as possible, using Government schemes resulting in most of our 46 paid staff being furloughed, and our dedicated volunteers being asked to stay at home for the time being.

“The Swanage Railway Trust has launched a number of fund-raising initiatives and the ability for people to make a donation via text message is one of the initiatives that we are taking to encourage public support at this critical time.

“We are monitoring the advice and guidance given by the Government and its public health experts. The safety and well-being of our paid staff, volunteers and passengers is always of the utmost importance.

“Essential staff are maintaining, repairing and keeping the Swanage Railway secure – while taking precautions and exercising social distancing as per Government advice – until train operations can be resumed,” explained Mr Johns.

The Swanage Railway’s fund-raising chairman Randy Coldham said: “People can now easily donate by phone to the Swanage Railway’s ‘Save Our Service’ appeal by texting ‘SOS’ to 70470 to donate £10 which costs £10 plus a standard rate message.

“Donors can also choose to give any whole amount between £1 and £20. For example, texting ‘SOS 4’ equals a £4 donation plus a standard rate message,” explained the volunteer Swanage Railway signalman.

The Swanage Railway ran its last public trains on the weekend of 14 and 15 March, 2020, with its shop and café at Swanage station closing on Thursday, 19 March, 2020.

Clearly marked ‘Save Our Service’ appeal, cheques can also be sent to the Swanage Railway Trust at Station House, Station Approach, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 1HB.

To donate by phone, text 'SOS' to 70470 to donate £10. This costs £10 plus a standard rate message. Alternatively, you can choose to give any whole amount between £1 and £20. For example, texting 'SOS 4' equals a £4 donation plus a standard rate message.

To make a ‘Save Our Service’ donation by PayPal, a Fast Payment through Internet banking or by a cheque in the post, visit or the giving page on this web site. Donations can also be made via the Swanage Railway’s Facebook page

Story by Andrew P.M. Wright,

Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.


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