SWANAGE Railway volunteers are hoping to raise £200,000 for the RNLI’s lifeboat station appeal, thanks to a ‘special train’.

The ‘Swanage Lifeboatman’ diesel train will be making history on Thursday, May 8, by being the first excursion train to travel on the rebuilt Swanage Railway to pick up passengers at Poole station, in the hope of raising money for a new lifeboat house.

The RNLI is the nominated charity for this year’s diesel Gala and Beer Festival, which runs from Friday, May 9 to Sunday May 11, and takes place at the Bankes Arms Hotel next to Corfe Castle.

Swanage Railway General Manager Richard Jones said: “The Swanage Railway is delighted to be supporting the Swanage lifeboat station appeal with the RNLI being the nominated charity during our three-day Diesel Gala and Beer Festival.”

A new lifeboat station near Peveril Point is needed to help accommodate the next generation, and hi-tech lifeboat – a fast 25-knot all-weather ‘Shannon’ class vessel that will be setting sail during 2016.

The train will depart from Salisbury at 9.15am, and will be calling at Romsey, Southampton, Bourne-mouth, and Poole and will arrive at Swanage just before noon the same day. On the train’s arrival a £500 cheque will be presented to members of the Swanage lifeboat crew from kind-hearted railway volunteers.

Swanage Railway Company Chairman Peter Sills said: “Serving the local community, the Swanage Railway and the town’s lifeboat have both been an important part of Swanage for more than 130 years.”

With almost 200 passengers expected onboard, the ‘special train’ has been organised by South West Trains and UK Railtours and is formed of a 1990s built South West Trains three-coach class 159 diesel unit, which normal runs from London to Bristol and Exeter, as well as between Salsibury and Romsey.

The fundraising train will make one return trip to the Swanage Railway’s before departing at 5.06pm for a three-hour journey back to Salisbury via Southampton.