SWANAGE Railway will receive a £223,200 boost from the Government's £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

The heritage railway, which has struggled financially during the pandemic, is one of 445 organisations in England to be awarded cash from the first round of the fund.

Randy Coldham, fundraising chairman at Swanage Railway, said: "This grant is integral to the future success of the Swanage Railway by providing financial assistance to improve our systems, and support our training and Covid-19 responsibilities.

"It does not negate the importance of our SOS Appeal which supports the day to day running of our railway through this coming winter."

The railway's Save Our Service (SOS) appeal was launched earlier this year when the service was in complete shutdown.

Trains started running again on the heritage line in early July, but at a reduced capacity due to social distancing rules.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As a nation, it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past.

"This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post Covid."

This latest funding will allow Swanage Railway to upgrade its passenger reservations systems, which has experienced 'challenges' in coping with the additional passenger information needed for Covid-19 track and trace.

It will also help keep stations and carriage stock sanitised, improve information screens at Swanage and Corfe Castle stations, and help with the provision of PPE for staff and volunteers.