GRAFFITI vandals have targeted a Purbeck heritage railway that is fighting to safeguard its future, leaving it with expensive clean-up costs.

The Swanage Railway has only been back running for two weeks, after the pandemic forced its complete shutdown.

Without much-needed revenue, all the hard work that has gone into restoring the branch line over the decades could be lost – so supporters stress every penny is important.

However, the cost of repairing the two carriages targeted is likely to be significant.

The graffiti appeared on the carriages sometime between July 5/6, despite there being a graffiti wall close by.

Gavin Johns, Swanage Railway Trust chairman, told the Daily Echo: "It is very disappointing that someone feels this is a good thing to do, particularly when the railway is facing the challenge of coronavirus. We've been open for two weeks now and we've had a really good start – we've had a good couple of weeks which have enabled us to test the measures we've put in place to maintain social distancing.

"We are confident passengers can travel safely with us."

Mr Johns said one of the carriages has been cleaned but the other one is damaged worse and will have to be repaired later in the year.

"It is a complicated heritage colour scheme, which we want to replicate, so it will take time and money," he said.

Meanwhile, on the Purbeck police facebook page, where officers are asking for information identifying those responsible for the vandalism, residents have spoken of their disappointment.

Ben Broomfield commented: "I just don’t get the mentality of the people who think this is acceptable?

"Just annoys the hell out of me as a previous volunteer on the railway.

"Feel very sorry for the guys at Swanage Railway who have had enough on their plate to deal with as a result of the current situation."

Linda Welsh said: "Absolute disgusted, where is it all going to end, kids or adults, the punishment should be hard. And where do they get the spray paint from?"

The Purbeck police post read: ""Unfortunately sometime between 5th and 6th July Swanage Railway was targeted by an 'artist'. Despite there being a graffiti wall a few hundred yards away.

"As you can see from the images the 'art' was sprayed along the carriages causing damage and resulting in the railway having to pay to have it removed and the carriages repaired.

"If you can identify the 'artist' from the tags then please get in touch."