South Dorset Member of Parliament Richard Drax took to the coal shovel on a steam locomotive when he paid a visit to the volunteer-led Swanage Railway – to learn more about its £14 million annual contribution to the Purbeck and Dorset economy.
Mr Drax visited Dorset’s highly successful and award-winning five and a half mile heritage line on 3 April.
Rebuilt from nothing since 1976 and now carrying more than 210,000 passengers a year, the Swanage Railway takes 40,000 cars a year off the narrow and winding A351 Corfe Castle to Swanage road thanks to a 350-space car park next to Norden station.
Arriving by steam train at Swanage station after riding in a newly restored rare 1940s Southern Railway Bulleid carriage from Norden Park & Ride, Mr Drax was welcomed by the Mayor of Swanage, Ali Patrick, as well as tourism staff from Swanage and Purbeck councils.
Mr Drax said: “The Swanage Railway plays a vital and integral part in promoting tourism in Purbeck. Those romantic days of steam are played out every day on this scenic stretch of line which is loved and maintained by a band of railway enthusiasts who have Purbeck’s interests at heart.
“This team has worked tirelessly to provide a service for residents and tourists alike and my visit to the Swanage Railway was a highly enjoyable, informative and action-packed afternoon.
“The Swanage Railway is right at the heart of life in Purbeck and offers an unforgettable experience to tourists who come to Dorset to savour our rural culture,” added Mr Drax.