TWO extra festive Steam and Lights trains will now run through Purbeck on New Year's Eve.

The trains, operating on the heritage Swanage Railway line, are providing a welcome shot-in-the-arm for the railway, which has been left reeling from lost revenue due to the pandemic.

Heritage rail bosses say they decided on the extra New Year's Eve services due to unprecedented public demand.

The steam locomotives haul six brightly lit carriages on a one-hour round trip from Swanage to Corfe Castle and Norden.

Steve Williams, Swanage Railway’s volunteer commercial director, said: “The demand from the public for tickets for our new colourful, evocative and dramatic Steam and Lights train service continues to be unprecedented which is very gratifying.

“The special trains are very important to the Swanage Railway because the profits from their operation go towards helping the heritage railway survive the potentially devastating economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are delighted to be able to run an extra day of two Steam and Lights trains because the feedback from passengers has been very encouraging and a lovely thank you to our volunteers who put in such a lot of hard work into making the magic happen.

“One passenger loved their trip so much that he emailed me to say well done, adding that it had been ‘a magical experience’ and that ‘the production was absolutely amazing’.

“He went on to say that ‘the warm welcome everyone received from your staff made it a night to remember’ which makes all the hours of preparation, and all the hard work on the evening, worthwhile."

Swanage Railway says the number of people on a booking cannot exceed six from the same household, or care bubble, and that they cannot take bookings from people who live in a tier three area because of Government regulations.

Before the decision to run an extra day of ‘Steam and Lights’ trains on Thursday, 31 December, 2020, was made – the Swanage Railway had committed to run the festive trains on 17 days during December with two of the trains running in darkness on each of the days.

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