VANDALS daubed graffiti across a railway carriage at a popular Dorset tourist attraction.

Police are appealing for witnesses after the carriage, belonging to the Swanage Railway Company, was damaged by a large amount of graffiti.

The heritage steam and diesel train service runs between Swanage and Norden, passing Corfe Castle.

Vandals struck between midnight and 6am on March 15 at Swanage Railway Station on Station Approach.

Simon Hanney, Swanage Railway marketing manager, said the graffiti damage was discovered by volunteers a few hours after it occurred.

He added: “Our volunteer team immediately scrubbed off the graffiti using specialist cleaning equipment and luckily there is no lasting damage.

“This vandalism is not common and I have never heard of this happening before, but we would back the police appeal for witnesses and hope that whoever did this gets caught.”

Swanage Mayor Ali Patrick said the criminal damage was 'heartbreaking'.

She added: “I'm appalled that people would damage heritage steam carriages in this manner.

“The railway is such an iconic part of the town and I fully support the police appeal for witnesses, whoever did this must be caught.

“I'm in the process of trying to get a street art wall created in Swanage so that people who want to express themselves through graffiti do not turn to measures like this.

“The Swanage railway is run by volunteers and this is heartbreaking to all those who have put their own time and effort into making the railway what it is today.”

Sergeant Jon McCarthy of Purbeck police urged anyone with information to come forward.

He said: “This crime has caused a vast amount of expense and inconvenience to the railway company which is predominantly run by volunteers for the benefit of the public.

“This crime is extremely distressing for them and could not have come at a worse time of year with Easter just around the corner.”

No arrests have been made.

Anyone with information should call Dorset Police on 101 quoting crime number C:14:C:10526.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.