The Swanage Railway is one of Britain’s most popular heritage railways, with steam trains running every day between April and October. At busy periods such as school holidays there are two steam trains a day providing a 40 minute service between Norden Park and Ride at Corfe Castle, Harmans Cross and Swanage. For the rest of the year there are trains every weekend and during the week in February half term and part of March.
Corfe Castle is a great place to take the train from and it takes only 22 minutes to travel to Swanage. Corfe Castle station has magnificent views across to the Castle and the station itself is a wonderful recreation of a 1950s railway station. The signal box has won a national heritage award and at the back of the station is a free railway museum.
Visitors should look out for the Special Weekends: annual Diesel Gala, and two Steam Galas. During the week of the Swanage Carnival there is an extended evening service and an evening service at other busy times. For 9 days in December there are Santa Specials from Swanage.
On selected evenings and weekends the Wessex Belle can be booked for three course dining. There is a café in a railway carriage “the Birds Nest” at Norden and Swanage (all year round).
The five steam engines on the line including the Battle of Britain Class Manston are regularly rotated so there is always something new to see. A new treat is to ride in the Pullman Observation Car (small supplement) when it is running as it offers superb views of the valley to and from Swanage.
About ten special trains a year visit Corfe Castle and Swanage from the rest of England using mainline steam engines.
Lastly marvel at the feat of operating this 6-mile line. When British Railways closed it in 1972 everything was taken away. Volunteers have rebuilt every metre of track and a lot more besides and nearly 600 volunteers keep the railway going.
Hopes remain high that a regular service will start from the mainline at Wareham in the next few years offering direct connections to the whole UK network. A pilot service will start in 2017.
Full timetable and list of special events can be found on the Swanage Railway website – visit www.swanagerailway.co.uk
Location of Corfe Castle Train Station