Swanage Railway Trust
Come and help us keep the Swanage Railway operating
Come along and give us a hand . . . .
The Swanage Railway is all about our people. It is the volunteers, supplemented by a small staff, that enable us to do all the things we do from preserving our heritage to running trains and everything in between.
The Railway runs steam trains on most weekends and daily from April to October with a particularly intensive service in July and August often with evening diesel services too. All of this needs plenty of volunteers working all year round to make it happen!
There are so many varied jobs around our Railway that whatever your professional background, skills or interest, you can find a niche which allows you to contribute to the success of the whole enterprise. Full training is given where necessary.
For almost ninety years, the Swanage Branch wound its way through the beautiful Purbeck countryside, from Wareham, past Corfe Castle to the attractive, Victorian, sea-side town of Swanage. In 1972, British Rail closed the line, and seven miles of track between Swanage and Furzebrook was ripped up in just seven weeks.
When a small group of volunteers got together later that year, they were faced with a disused and boarded-up Swanage station, bulldozed platforms and no track! However, persistence and volunteer effort has produced one of Britain’s best preserved heritage railways.
As well as being a major tourist attraction in the Purbeck area, the line now provides an important transport link from Norden Park & Ride station to Corfe Castle and Swanage, helping reduce the number of cars on the already busy A351. With further effort we aim to reinstate services to Wareham and re-connect the Isle of Purbeck to the main-line railway.
Preserving the Trust’s collection of operating railway equipment – and restoring more items to operational condition – requires time and money. Most of that time comes from our volunteers. Whether you want to get involved in maintaining track, working with locomotives or carriages, signalling, catering, assisting our passengers or one of the many other jobs, then we would like your help to make our visitors’ day a memorable and enjoyable one.
The Trust was awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service in 2017. This 'MBE for voluntary services' recognized the work of the Trust volunteers in restoring the rail link to Wareham. The remainder of this page provides more information about some of our roles - but to find out more contact us via the form on the right.
Want to know more?
For an informal chat, contact Mike Whitwam using the form below, by phone or email:
Mike can then show you the various areas that interest you and introduce you to the departmental or project managers and meet other volunteers at work.
If you can't wait, or just want to find out more, then the latest edition of Swanning Around - our monthly newsletter for volunteers - can be downloaded here.
Passenger Services are often the first people our visitors meet when they arrive at the Railway and the last before they leave. Most of our passenger services volunteers work issuing tickets in our ticket offices, checking tickets on our trains or helping our passengers at stations.
Our passenger services volunteers also take the lead ar our special events - from helping steward events such as our galas to helping Santa at Christmas! During the year passenger services also provide the attendant when our observation car is operating.
Our Operations department is responsible for our train services with a range of roles from operating our locomotives as drivers, fireman, guards on the trains as well as the signallers who co-ordinate the train movements. All work together to ensure the safety of our operations.
These front-line volunteers are supported by other volunteers in roles from preparing the locomotives to rostering the crews. Operations roles generally have a progression with increasing experience as well as more extensive training needs.
Sales and Marketing
Sales and Marketing volunteers cover a range of roles in our retail outlets - but some of those 'outlets' are rather different!
Our shop at Swanage station relies on volunteers to help our visitors find that perfect momento - as well as the ideal ice cream!
Other sales and marketing volunteers work in our station catering outlets as well as in a number of roles on our dining trains helping visitors make special memories
Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon
Our newest rolling stock is over fifty years old and some of it was designed more than a century ago. Keeping this equipment operational is the challenge taken on by the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon teams. However, an equal challenge is restoring those items that have long been out of use.
Volunteers mostly work in teams that are aligned with their specific interests: Southern Railway carriages, the wagon fleet or our steam and diesel locomotives. Others work alongside our full time staff undertaking overhauls on our operational fleet.
Signals and Telegraph
Signals and Telegraph maintain the communication equipment required to operate one of the most intensive heritage railway operations as well as the signalling equipment around the railway and in our signal boxes.
Most of the signalling equipment dates from the steam era, but newer equipment also has its place in supporting our operations. Whether it is reconditioning equipment, testing and fault finding operational equipment or working on new systems such as the Network Rail connection, S&T helps keep our trains running.
The Permanent Way team is responsible for the track and it's environs and is critical to our ability to run trains safely. This includes everything from track maintenance to brush clearance, and from bridges to platforms.
This team works outdoors more than any other group of volunteers - so a love of the outdoors is definitely a benefit! The PWay team works all year round but is especially busy in the short period when we don't run trains as this allows major projects to be undertaken.
Maintaining five stations, three signal boxes and countless other buildings provides plenty of work for the Estates team quite apart from all the other projects around the railway! The range of work undertaken by this team includes routine maintenance as well as specialist electrical and other skills.
The estates team is also responsible for managing our stations and ensuring that work is scheduled as needed to enable us to provide a positive experience for our visitors.
And there is more . . . . !
Whatever your skills or interests - from civil engineering to finance, from editing to marketing we are likely to have a role where we can use your help. Simply fill in the form above and come and join us!