Swanage Railway Tourism Award

Picture by Andrew P.M. Wright

Picture by Andrew P.M. Wright


Hard-working Swanage Railway staff are celebrating after again winning a tourism award for the quality of their popular Purbeck heritage line visitor attraction – for the fifth year running.

The Quality Assured Visitor Attraction accreditation has come from the national Visit England body which promotes tourism and high quality among visitor attractions countrywide.

Rebuilt from nothing since 1976 – and carrying more than 200,000 passengers a year – the award-winning Swanage Railway is the most visited paid-for attraction in Dorset.

It is also the second most visited heritage railway in south west England according to Visit England figures for 2010.

The Swanage Railway operates some 2,800 trains a year, mostly steam-hauled, which clock up a total of almost 17,000 miles – that is two thirds of the way around the world.

The award to the Swanage Railway follows a detailed inspection by Visit England of the heritage railway which runs steam and diesel trains over almost six miles of relaid line between Swanage, Herston, Harman’s Cross, Corfe Castle and Norden ‘park and ride’.

The Visit England inspector noted: “The Swanage Railway continues to offer memorable experiences to visitors of all ages and interests. Staff in all areas of the attraction are friendly, proactive, enthusiastic and knowledgeable; their good customer care enables visitors to benefit from their trip on the Railway.”

Swanage Railway commercial manager Martin Payne said: “The Quality Assured Visitor Attraction status  is a credit to all the Swanage Railway staff who have worked hard to make the Swanage Railway what it is today.

“The friendliness and helpfulness of the Swanage Railway staff is a recurring theme throughout the report from an independent professional inspector and reflects the public’s view of the Swanage Railway in our summer passenger survey that the friendliness of staff was rated extremely high.”

Some of the key areas praised by the Visit England inspector were:

• Good and reliable information provided before and during the visit

• Punctuality of the trains

• Very friendly and helpful staff

• Pro-activity of staff adding to the enjoyment of the visit

• Major improvements in the Bird’s Nest buffet and shop at Swanage station

• Provision of facilities for disabled passengers

Martin explained: “This is a tremendous credit to our staff, both volunteers and paid, who work tirelessly to deliver an exceptional experience to our passengers.

“Our staff have a real passion about the Swanage Railway and the Purbeck area and they are only too happy to explain how things work or what visitors can do during their time in the Isle of Purbeck or other parts of Dorset.

“Staff friendliness on our trains and at stations is a major reason for visitors returning time after time to the Swanage Railway for a quality and enjoyable visitor experience,” added Martin.

Run by some 500 regular volunteers – and assisted by a team of more than 30 full-time staff – the value of work by the Swanage Railway’s dedicated and devoted volunteers is some £2 million a year if they were paid.