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Swanage Railway


RCD’s Overview

This is one of the UK’s premier heritage lines and gets our very top rating.

This railway run from the seaside resort town of Swanage through the Isle of Purbeck to Corfe Castle and Norden. Established back in the 1970’s, this is one of the UK’s most established heritage railways, with a year-round operation of services, and a large collection of steam locomotives ranging from former top line express locomotives, to branch line tank engines. It is one of the most authentic heritage railways, its collection comprising locomotives associated with the London and South Western Railway and Southern Railways. The area around Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck is particularly attractive and visitors to the area should ensure they visit this popular heritage railway. 

New for 2023: Direct services between Wareham (connection with main line rail service) and Swanage will operate by Heritage DMU between April and September. These trains operate on most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays up to 9 September (4 services per day).

The support group is the 'Swanage Railway Trust' (see 'Information on the Suport Group' below).


Happening This Month:

  • Go to 'Homepage' and click into 'Railway Club Calendar'

Key Facts (where and when)

Extent of Railway (where to where):

Swanage and Norden Park & Ride (and on certain days, to Wareham)

Principal Visitor Centre:

Swanage Station

Period of Operation*

- February to March (weekends)

- April to August (Daily)

- Sept/Oct: Daily, except most Mondays and Fridays

- Late November and December (Special event trains)

 [* This is a summary. Please go to the railway’s website for definitive operating days] 


Key Facts (what you’ll see)

Services usually steam or diesel?

Usually steam. On occasional days, diesels also run

Type of Steam / Diesel Locomotives Used:

Full range of steam and diesel locos (large, mid and small-sized)

Length of Line:

5.5 miles Swanage to Norden

Time taken for a round trip:

1 hour (Swanage - Norden Park). 1.5 hours (Swanage - Wareham)

Number of trains per day:

Varies: Peak summer and Wareham operation days (5 steam, 4 diesel). Blue days (5 steam).

Number of Stations:

5 stations


Full line Rover tickets (includes Wareham): Adult: £25. Child: £12.50. Family: £70

Swanage – Norden tickets: Adult: £18. Child: £9. Family: £49.50

Singles and tickets to other stations also available.

‘Swanage Railway Rail Card’ offers a 33% discount on all standard fares including services to Wareham (excluding specials, such as galas, Santa specials and dining trains): £30

Time to allow for Visit:

2 to 3 hours


Yes, at Corfe Castle station



Picnic/Play areas:


Preservation Established:


Car Park Facilities:

Victoria Avenue car park (for Swanage) and Purbeck Park (for Norden)


Key Facts (Galas/Events/Dining)

Dining Trains:

- Afternoon Tea in the 'Devon Belle' Observation Car: April

- Christmas Luncheons: 26 Nov to 22 December 

Event Trains:

- Steam and Lights: December                                                                               

Principal Galas:

- Spring Steam Gala: March

- Diesel Gala: May

- Autumn Steam Gala: October 


- Taster Driver Experience                  

- Afternoon Tea in the 'Devon Belle' Pullman Observation Car

- Sea Train Adventure




Telephone:                                                          01929 425800


Social Media:                                            

                                                                             Also on Twitter/ Instagram/ YouTube


Brief History of the Railway and its Preservation  

The Swanage Railway was a 10-mile branch line connecting Swanage to the London to Dorchester main line at Wareham. It was built primarily with consideration of the extensive quarrying and clay activities around the area, namely the Isle of Purbeck. Opened in 1885, it was soon taken over by the London and South Western Railway. It was particularly popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s with holiday traffic, and had regular through carriages to London Waterloo. However, passenger numbers later declined and the line was closed controversially by British Rail in 1972, although a small residual stub at its Wareham end remained open for handling mineral and later oil traffic. In 1972 a railway society was formed intending to purchasing the line and re-instating commercial all-year operation of the branch, together with steam operations over the summer months. These plans were later revised to operating solely a heritage railway. Preservation was delayed whilst local government plans were being formulated for a by-pass around Corfe Castle which would have utilised the railway formation. That road was never built, and the railway reopened in stages from 1979, reaching Norden Park & Ride in 1995.

The rail connection with Network Rail at Wareham was re-instated in 2007 with the intention of running some through services between Swanage and Wareham. Full services were delayed whilst technical issues relating to the operation over the Network Rail portion of the line were resolved. However in 2023 direct services between Wareham and Swanage were re-introduced operate by Heritage DMUs. Trains operate on most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays up to 9 September (4 services per day).


Principal Aspiration

The continuation and development of the re-introduced service between Swanage and Wareham, to connect with the main line railway network.


Steam Operational Locomotives:

(1) LSWR Class T3 (Adams) - No. 563

(2) LSWR Class T9 (Drummond) - No.30120

(3) LSWR Class M7 (Drummond) - No. 30053

(4) SR West Country Class - No. 34028 ‘Eddystone’

(5) SR Battle of Britain Class - No. 34070 ‘Manston’


Diesel Operational Locomotives/DMU:

(1) BR Class 08 - No. 08436

(2) BR Class 08 – D3591

(3) BR Class 33 - No. 33012 (D6515)

(4) BR Class 33 - No. 33111

(5) Heritage DMU Class 121 Bubble Car - W55028


Steam Locomotives Under Overhaul:

(1) SR Class U (Maunsell) - No. 31806

(2) SR Class N (Maunsell) - No. 31874



Name of Support Group:

Swanage Railway Trust

Annual membership fee:

Adult: £26. Junior: £15. Family: £52. Life £1,000

Own Website:



Benefits of membership:                                  

-          33% discount (free if Life Member) on all standard fares (excluding to Wareham), and excluding specials, such as galas, Santa specials and dining trains

- Discount (10%) on most items sold in the railway shop

- Regular editions of the ‘Swanage Railway Magazine’


How to Join:                                                Go to


What They Say About Volunteering:

We would not be able to run the Swanage Railway without our fantastic team of over 400 volunteers, who are responsible for everything from running trains, keeping our stations looking great to selling tickets & refreshments and much more. You might be retired and are looking for ways to stay active and meet new people, or perhaps you’re still in work but want to gain new skills and try something different to the day job. Either way volunteering with us is a great way to contribute to the community and to become involved in something rewarding, social and worthwhile. We have a wide range of positions available so a simple smile and a positive attitude is usually a great start.


How to Volunteer:                      Go to

See also


How to Donate:                                Go to


WHY JOIN:  Help the railway maintain its substantial collections and the possible re-establishment of services between Swanage and Wareham.



Those interested in this railway may also be interested in the following railway societies also listed on this



Traditional Railway Societies:

- South Western Circle

- Southern Railways Group

- Bournemouth Railway Club

- Wimborne Railway Society


Locomotive/ Engineering Societies:

- Southern Locomotives Limited

- Drummond Locomotives Ltd

Model Railway Clubs:

- Poole and District Model Railway Society

- Central Southern Gauge O Group

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