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The Swanage Railway carries almost 211,000 passengers during 2013 - 8,631 of them on 'Santa Special' steam trains.

Published: January 8, 2014

Dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers are celebrating the restored heritage line through Dorset's Isle of Purbeck carrying a total of almost 211,000 passengers during 2013 - more than the combined populations of Bournemouth, Wimborne and Blandford Forum.

Between 1 January and 31 December, 2013, trains running on the award-winning rebuilt railway from Norden Park & Ride to Corfe Castle, Harman's Cross, Herston and Swanage carried a total of 210,984 passengers.

And during ten operating days from the end of November to the end of 24 December, 2013, the festive 'Santa Special' Christmas steam trains carried a total of 8,631 passengers - more than the population of Wareham - which is up by 1,155 people and an increase of 15.4 per cent on 2012.

Swanage Railway General Manager Richard Jones said: "2013 was a fantastic year for the Swanage Railway and our second best year ever for passenger numbers - only beaten by our 212,095 passengers in 2009 - while December, 2013, was our best ever performance for that month.

"For the Swanage Railway to achieve such a significant increase in passenger numbers on 2012 is a terrific achievement and a result of the hard work and commitment of our many staff - both paid and volunteer. We're grateful to everyone who has supported the Swanage Railway this year," he explained.

Managed and developed by the volunteer-run Swanage Railway Trust, a registered charity - with the steam and diesel trains run by the Swanage Railway Company - all profits are ploughed back into the Swanage Railway to develop, improve and extend the heritage line rebuilt from nothing since 1976.

The Swanage Railway Trust has some 4,000 members and some 400 regular volunteers who help to run the train services - and maintain the infrastructure - supported by a team of paid staff, both full-time and seasonal.

Richard Jones explained: "The Swanage Railway's success during 2013 has been due to the more favourable weather, increased marketing activity and public awareness as well as a conscious effort to continually improve the railway and the range and quality of what we offer to our visitors.

"Mostly volunteers, our staff have worked wonders in running the trains throughout 2013 and this success is a tribute to their enthusiasm, dedication and support - it really is a privilege to lead such a great team.

"Our very popular 'Santa Special' steam trains carried a total of 8,631 passengers during just ten days - generating a significant amount of positive comment and feedback as well as a very welcome boost to our income towards the end of the year.

"This year marks the 35th anniversary of the first Swanage Railway passenger trains in 1979 and we will be celebrating in style, with a range of exciting and memorable events and activities throughout the year to suit everybody.

"The Swanage Railway operates one of the most intensive train services on any heritage railway in the country and during 2014 we will be running trains on every weekend throughout the year and daily from 29 March to 2 November," added Mr Jones.

Steam trains run on Saturdays and Sundays in January and February - and daily between Monday and Friday, 17 to 21 February, 2014, inclusive - with departures from Norden Park & Ride at 11.20am, 12.40pm, 2.40pm and 4pm. Train departures from Swanage are at 10.40am, 12 noon, 2pm and 3.20pm.

New volunteers are always welcomed by the Swanage Railway, with full training given. For an informal chat - and to find out more - contact volunteer co-ordinator Mike Whitwam on 01929 475212 or email [email protected].uk.