Swanage Railway launches SOS Appeal to save their steam locomotive services 

SOS Appeal Hits £140k // Credit Swanage Railway
SOS Appeal Hits £140k // Credit Swanage Railway

The Save Our Service Appeal, launched by the Swanage Railway, is seeking donations to help the railway during the difficult times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the line closed fully on Thursday 19th of March 2020, over six weeks ago, the Swanage Railway has taken in only a small fraction of its normal revenue, with many bills still needing to be paid even with no trains running.

Contributing over £15 million to the economy around the Isle of Purbeck area, the railway not only brings in vital income to local businesses but also recreates an important time in history.

The Swanage Railway would like to say thank you to everyone who has donated so far to their SOS appeal, with over £140,000 raised so far.

Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated by the railway, and it’s volunteers, with volunteers releasing videos (viewed below) to show their story and why the line is so important.

For more information or to support the Swanage Railway, please visit their website here.

What did the officials say?

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.

“With the Swanage Railway closed, on Government advice, it has no income for the duration of the current emergency.

“My appeal to people is that the Swanage Railway took 40 years to rebuild so please help us to ensure that it is not put out of business by the Coronavirus.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the Swanage Railway, which contributes more than £15 million to the Purbeck economy every year, is fighting for its very existence.

“That is why we have launched this ‘Save Our Service’ (S.O.S.) Coronavirus appeal for donations because we urgently need the help of our members, supporters, passengers and the general public.

“We are working very hard to try and ensure that the Swanage Railway is not in financial jeopardy through no fault of its own,”

Liz Sellen, chairman of the Swanage Railway Company – which runs the trains and other commercial operations such as retail and catering – said:

“Please help now and support the Swanage Railway by giving generously to ensure that our beloved heritage line survives these very challenging and difficult times.

“The result of the Railway’s closure, due to the threat of Coronavirus, means that there will be no income for the foreseeable future. While no trains are running, the line is being maintained and regular security patrols are taking place.

“We are constantly 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.

“Without income over the coming months, the Swanage Railway – which has been built up through the sweat, blood and tears of several generations over 40 years – cannot survive.

“Our insurance policy does not cover loss of earnings due to a pandemic and if we qualify for Government loans, they have to be repaid which would put yet another strain on our fragile finances.

“During the period that the Swanage Railway is shut down, essential staff will be maintaining, repairing and keeping the heritage line secure – while maintaining common sense precautions and social distancing as per Government advice – until train operations can safely be resumed.

“While the Railway will endeavour to take advantage of the Government’s financial assistance during the period of the Coronavirus crisis, that help will not cover all the financial loss of no income for what could be an indefinite period.

“The majority of our paid staff are being asked to make a personal sacrifice for the Railway by taking a furlough which takes them out of work but allows the Government to pay 80 per cent of their salary,” added the Swanage Railway Company chairman, a dedicated volunteer on the heritage railway for 30 years.

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  1. Having read, learnt and watched the online video,
    I (myself) would like to wish the Spectacular and Forever Preserved Swanage Railway
    Good Luck on this latest appeal.

    Also, Well Done to the Swanage Railway lot on how well they’ve fundraised so far in-between.

    I even hope to visit and ride aboard this Stunning West Country Heritage Railway ‘in-person’ someday (having so far only seen this Well Restored Branch Line Heritage Railway through film, media and photography).

    The Swanage Railway (whom I believe have also been aiming to reach Wareham, via Blue Pool en-route) is one of the most interesting and ”Eagerly-Must-Visit” Heritage Railways/Tourist Attractions that I have ever come across/discovered.


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