An Independent Guide to Britain’s Preserved Railways
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Getting There

By train - The nearest main line station is Wareham which is served by South West Trains services from London, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth

By Car - Norden is now the inland terminus of the railway and is located just off the A351 directing visitors to the railway away from Corfe Castle itself and it’s really easy to find. If you are travelling to the Isle of Purbeck by road, this is the place to park.

By Bus - The railway is accessible by bus from Bournemouth (Wilts and Dorset route 50), Poole and Wareham (Wilts and Dorset route 40).

By Boat - From Bournemouth and Poole.



A frequent daily service is provided from April to October with a selection of tender and larger tank steam locomotives, Class 33 diesel locomotives and diesel multiple units. A service is also run at weekends and school holidays for the rest of the year except January. Refer to the Swanage Railway website for the timetable (see link below).

Daytime services are steam and sometimes, diesel locomotive hauled depending on the timetable, diesel multiple units are used for evening and early morning services. Up and down trains usually pass at Harmans Cross but there is another passing loop at Corfe castle which gives flexibility for excursions and special events.

Travelling the whole length of the 6 mile line takes about 25 minutes.


The Swanage Railway is home to a quantity of locomotives and multiple units as follows, some of which are undergoing restoration, overhaul or are out of service.

Further variety is provided by visiting locomotives.


The majority of coaching stock is British Railways Mk1 dating from the 1950s painted in Malachite Green with British Railways crests.


It was about 1970 when I first visited Swanage whilst on holiday with my family. I fell in love with the Dorset resort back then and remember seeing the BR Southern Region 3H (later class 205) DEMUs operating the line. I can’t explain why but I did not return for 40 years despite living only about 90 minutes drive away since 2001. I’ve put that right now and have visited the Purbeck Line twice before writing this, both were on days when the line was host to an excursion via Network Rail metals.

As well as Swanage itself, the historic village of Corfe Castle, also served by the Swanage Railway, is a terrific tourist magnet. The narrow main street is the A351 Wareham to Swanage road so it is understandable that the station could not be reopened until alternative arrangements had been made to deal with traffic. The solution, Norden Park and Ride, is a stroke of genius and the Pay and Display charge is very reasonable. The visitor centre provides toilet facilities and information, access to the platform is via a short level path. Refreshments are available from a BR Mk1 buffet car with outside picnic area adjacent to the station.

Corfe Castle is a short train ride from Norden with excellent views of the ruined castle on the way, the station is original and has been restored to 1950s style. The Corfe Castle Railway Museum is housed in the old goods shed adjacent to the station and provides a fascinating view of the line’s history. The museum closes long before the last trains so if you want to visit, check the opening times. The castle ruins are a short walk and a steep climb away but provide some excellent viewpoints for railway photography.

Harmans Cross and Herston Halt stations were built since preservation but the period atmosphere is still maintained, Herston Halt is a request stop, you need to let the guard know if you want to alight there.

Swanage station has been restored in 1930s style and has a ticket office and bookshop in the station building and the Bird’s Nest Buffet housed in another Mk1 buffet car with additional outside seating on the platform. There is an engine shed viewing area opposite the turntable just a short walk away which is also a good place to photograph arriving and departing trains.

A short walk in the opposite direction takes you to the town centre and seafront with its beautiful long sandy beach, you won’t want to leave in a hurry. Fortunately the trains run late but the car park at Norden closes before the last trains so be careful you don’t get locked in.

The Swanage Railway is a very popular attraction, particularly in the Summer and quite rightly so. No holiday on the Isle of Purbeck would be complete without a steam train ride on the line. Since moving to the West Country I have tended to visit heritage railways in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall but a regular visit to Dorset has now joined the list.

Also known as The Purbeck Line, Dorset’s only heritage railway.

The 6 mile standard gauge Swanage Railway is located on the Isle of Purbeck in the south east corner of Dorset and passes through the picturesque village of Corfe Castle. The Isle of Purbeck is not a true island even though the English Channel, Poole Harbour and the River Frome almost surround it.

Park & Ride

Map | Getting There | Attractions & Facilities | Operation | Brief History | Review | Links


Swanage Railway at a Glance

Type: Preserved Railway

Gauge: Standard, 4’ 8½”

Length: 6 miles

Stations: 4 + 1 halt

First opened: 1885

Closed: 1972

Re-opened in preservation: 1979


The map below shows the location of all the stations on the Swanage Railway, click on any of the markers to see the station name and postcode. Use the zoom and pan tools to explore the map.

Attractions and Facilities

Here’s a summary of what can be found at each station on the Swanage Railway:


Contact Details

Headquarters Address:




Swanage Railway Co. Ltd,
Station House
BH19 1HB

01929 425800


Brief History

Neither station had existed on the original branch.