THE evocative sight of steam trains travelling through the Purbeck countryside is set to return.

Trains on the Swanage Railway, featuring assigned and socially-distanced seating, are to resume between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage on Monday, April 12, following the lifting of government coronavirus restrictions.

Swanage Railway chairman Gavin Johns said: “The Swanage Railway has a great part to play in giving people a wonderful day out in the Isle of Purbeck – whether it’s to visit Swanage and the beach, Corfe Castle and its magnificent ruins or simply to walk and enjoy the fresh air in the beautiful countryside.

“The safety of our passengers and staff is always our prime concern and detailed work has gone into our planning for the Swanage Railway’s reopening.

“The Swanage Railway is Covid-19 compliant with a long-life anti-bacterial spray being used on its trains and stations while the trains are cleaned, and the tables wiped, after every round trip,” added Gavin who is also a volunteer signalman on the heritage line."

The heritage line said Covid-safe passenger services ran during 2020, including the successful Steam and Lights festive trains in December.

Swanage Railway passenger services director Trevor Parsons said: “We strongly recommend on-line booking in advance, via our upgraded and improved website, to avoid disappointment as seat numbers are reduced, to ensure the prescribed social distancing, with any unsold seats being available for sale on the day at our Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage station ticket offices.

“Passengers will still have to wear face coverings on our platforms and trains – unless they are exempt – with hand sanitiser points available on our stations.

"Children under the age of 11 do not need to wear a face covering.

“We are taking all reasonable steps to ensure that our passengers are safe while travelling with us and passengers can travel with us in the knowledge that all fares go towards supporting the re-built Swanage Railway and ensuring its survival for future generations."

It is planned to reopen the fund-raising shop on Swanage station on Monday, April, 12, subject to the availability of volunteers to staff the shop.

Subject to the lifting of government restrictions, the railway hopes to reopen its Corfe Castle station museum, return catering facilities to Swanage and Norden stations and reintroduce its dining trains, in a Covid-safe manner, from May 17.