Record Numbers on the Railway

Record numbers

Record Numbers on the Railway

DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS CELEBRATE RECORD-BREAKING MAY DIESEL GALA AND APRIL BANK HOLIDAY EASTER WEEKEND

Elated Swanage Railway volunteers are celebrating after carrying a record-breaking 7,893 train passengers during their recent May Diesel Gala and the April Bank Holiday Weekend – more than the combined populations of Wareham, Corfe Castle and Studland.

Between Friday and Sunday, 7 and 9 May 2011, the Diesel Gala saw 2,966 people travel on the trains between Norden ‘park and ride’, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross, Herston Halt and Swanage – up 30 per cent on the May 2010 diesel gala.

And during the four-day Easter Bank Holiday weekend, 22 to 25 April 2011, the Swanage Railway’s intensive three-train service along the five and a half mile relaid Purbeck Line carried 4,927 passengers – an increase of 4.6 per cent on Easter 2010.

The increase in visitors during April and early May has prompted the Swanage Railway to increase the frequency of its trains between Tuesday 17 and Thursday 19 May 2011 from a single train steam service to a two-train steam and diesel train service.

Profits from the record-breaking Easter and Diesel Gala passenger takings will be re-invested into developing and extending the award-winning and volunteer-run Swanage Railway which has been built from nothing since 1976.

The Diesel Gala saw six large ex-British Rail main line locomotives attend the event by rail, along with an ex-British Rail Southern Region CIG class electrical multiple unit which was the last ‘slam door’ train to run on the Brockenhurst to Lymington branch line in Hampshire during May 2010.

Swanage Railway commercial manager Martin Payne said: “The Swanage Railway has been building a national reputation for organising a great Diesel Gala that is very enjoyable and which sports varying locomotives of great interest.

“This was our sixth annual Diesel Gala and arguably it was the best yet – not just in terms of passenger numbers but also the variety of ex-BR main line diesel locomotives that ran on the relaid Purbeck Line. It was wonderful to see a maroon Western in Swanage station alongside a green-liveried Deltic.”

Swanage Railway volunteers put down their record-breaking passenger-carrying success down to hot weather, a later Easter and the longer than expected holiday period because of the Royal Wedding Bank Holiday which brought many people down to Dorset.

Martin Payne explained: “The Swanage Railway represents the best and most enjoyable way to reach Corfe Castle or Swanage beach so we were able to benefit from the tremendous influx of visitors into Dorset.

“Because of the good weather and public demand, we decided to increase the number of steam and diesel trains operating over the Bank Holiday Easter weekend to three and this move turned out to be fully justified because of the number of people who travelled with us.”

All passengers were given hot cross buns on Good Friday and Easter Saturday with children travelling on the Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday being given a hand-made Swanage Railway chocolate Easter Egg.

Volunteers started to rebuild the Swanage Railway from nothing at Swanage station in 1976. The first trains of a small diesel locomotive and one carriage ran over a few hundred yards of track at Swanage during August 1979. Services were extended to Herston Halt in April 1984, Harman’s Cross in March 1989 and Corfe Castle and Norden ‘park and ride’ during August 1995.

Details of the Swanage Railway’s steam and diesel train services and special events are available by visiting www.swanagerailway.co.uk or by calling the Swanage Railway on 01929 425800.

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