STEAM trains have started to roll across the Dorset countryside with the re-opening of the Swanage Railway.

Featuring assigned and socially-distanced seating, trains have resumed between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage as government restrictions ease.

Yesterday saw Southern Railway 1940s Battle of Britain class Bulleid Pacific No. 34072 ‘257 Squadron’ haul the first steam train out of Swanage since December 29.

Swanage Railway trustee and passenger services director Trevor Parsons said: "It was wonderful to smell steam in the air and watch the magnificent sight of a steam train, with excited passengers on board, leave Swanage station for the first time in almost four months.

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"Our volunteers and staff have responded wonderfully to the challenge of returning a Covid-safe steam train service and it’s great to see the Swanage Railway again doing what is does best – help to provide people with a wonderful day out in the Isle of Purbeck."

The railway's fund-raising shop also opened its doors.

The Swanage Railway has been awarded ‘We’re Good to Go’ certification by the Visit England tourism body for demonstrating the heritage railway has met the required level of compliance with its Covid-19 preparations and precautions to keep the public safe.

The railway is recommending online advance bookings as seat numbers are reduced. Any unsold tickets will be available to buy on the day at the ticket offices.

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Mr Parsons added: "Passengers still have to wear face coverings on our platforms and trains – unless they are exempt – with hand sanitiser points available on our stations. Children under the age of 11 do not need to wear a face covering."

Subject to the lifting of Government restrictions, the Swanage Railway hopes to re-open its Corfe Castle station museum, return catering facilities to Swanage and Norden stations and re-introduce its dining trains, in a Covid-safe manner, from May 17.

The Swanage Railway’s Harman’s Cross station and Herston Halt will remain closed – in compliance with current Government guidance – and are set to re-open when the Government lifts the Covid-19 restrictions regarding social distancing.

Covid-safe passenger services ran on the Swanage Railway during 2020, including the successful Steam and Lights festive trains in December.

The Swanage Railway always welcomes new volunteers and anyone interested in finding out more should contact Swanage Railway volunteer co-ordinator Mike Whitwam on 01929 475212 or email

Up to date train service information is available from the Swanage Railway website at where train tickets can be booked.