The Swanage Railway is fighting for its survival after the COVID-19 pandemic has created the most urgent and potentially devastating challenge in its history.
Our very existence is under threat. If we are to run trains again in the Isle of Purbeck and remain part of the community, we need your help now - Urgently!
Unlike never before, we need the public’s help and your support to raise the vital £360,000 required to help save the railway from financial jeopardy!
We asked a few of our enthusiastic volunteers what the Swanage Railway means to them and why the ‘Save Our Service’ appeal urgently needs your help today! The exciting scenes are also a reminder of why the heritage industry is such an important part of history that can only continue with your support.
In our third and final SOS video for the year, we take a look at how your generous donations have helped us during the pandemic. We'll also look ahead to the future and explain the after effects of Coronavirus, the scale of the shortfall, what we’ve done to make ourselves more sustainable and why it’s vital we raise as much as we can before the end of the year to help put us on the road to recovery…
In our initial two part series, some of our 450 volunteers will be giving you an unequivocal insight into the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the railway and the crisis it now faces in its most critical fight for survival.
In the second episode of our initial two part series, Josh found out what the railway means to the community by talking to one of our local businesses along with South Dorset MP; Richard Drax, Swanage Town Cllr and Chair of the Tourism Committee; Caroline Finch and Swanage Town Mayor and Cllr; Mike Bonfield.
The Swanage Railway is one of the Isle of Purbeck's crown jewels that normally carries over 200,000 passengers a year and is worth £15 million a year to the local economy.
In accordance with the Government’s advice however, the railway has had to close but its insurance does not cover pandemics. Given we would normally be running daily services through to October for people visiting the area, we are not only losing revenue but also unable to recuperate the much needed income.
Even when services can eventually restart, social distancing measures will keep our customers safe but inevitably also restrict our earnings as well.
We've furloughed nearly all of our staff and done all we can to reduce our overheads as much as possible. Some necessities such as utilities, rent and just a handful of staff (for security and keeping the railway in a care and maintenance state) means we still have £46,000 a month to pay. It is therefore absolutely crucial for the ‘Save Our Service’ appeal to raise its £360,000 target to help it survive.
It's taken over 40 years to lovingly but painstakingly reconnect Swanage to the mainline railway network at Wareham station however its future is currently on a knife edge. Our staff and volunteers are imploring the public to donate and share their plea to help spread the message - The Swanage Railway is in the fight of its life for its existence!
Photograph © Andrew PM Wright
“I would like to see us all come together and really help Swanage Railway out of this crisis. I think we need to put minds and hearts together and look at different ways of helping.”
“I dread to imagine if this line went how many businesses would be affected, particularly in the hospitality area ... if that went too at the end of all this it would be catastrophic.”
“The railway is a big organisation here in Swanage but we have many others and we need to pull together to protect the things we have here for our visitors and locals alike and this is not just for Swanage, it’s for the whole Purbeck area.”