Dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers are celebrating the restored heritage line through Dorset's Isle of Purbeck carrying a total of almost 211,000 passengers during 2013.
Between January 1 and December 31, trains running on the award-winning rebuilt railway from Norden Park & Ride to Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross, Herston and Swanage carried a total of 210,984 passengers.
And during ten operating days from the end of November to December 24, the festive ‘Santa Special’ Christmas steam trains carried a total of 8,631 passengers - an increase of 15.4 per cent on 2012.
Swanage Railway General Manager Richard Jones said: “Last year was a fantastic year for the Swanage Railway and our second best year ever for passenger numbers – only beaten in 2009 – while December, 2013, was our best ever for that month.
“For the Swanage Railway to achieve such a significant increase in passenger numbers on 2012 is a terrific achievement and a result of the hard work and commitment of our many staff.
“We’re grateful to everyone who has supported the Swanage Railway this year,” he said.
Managed and developed by the volunteer-run Swanage Railway Trust, a registered charity – with the steam and diesel trains run by the Swanage Railway Company - all profits are ploughed back into the Swanage Railway to develop, improve and extend the heritage line rebuilt from nothing since 1976.
The Swanage Railway Trust has some 4,000 members and some 400 regular volunteers who help to run the train services - and maintain the infrastructure - supported by a team of paid staff, both full-time and seasonal.
Richard Jones said: “The success during 2013 has been due to the favourable weather and increased marketing as well as a conscious effort to continually improve the range and quality of what we offer to our visitors.
Swanage Railway train times - and special event details - are available online at www.swanagerailway.co.uk or by telephone on 01929 425800.