|West of England line|
|Stations||21 (Basingstoke to Exeter St Davids)|
|Type||Suburban rail, Heavy rail|
|Operator(s)||South Western Railway|
|Rolling stock|| Class 158 "Express Sprinter" |
Class 159 "South Western Turbo"
|Line length||120 mi 77 ch (194.67 km) [Basingstoke to Exeter St Davids] |
172 mi 12 ch (277.05 km) [London to Exeter St Davids via SWML]
|Number of tracks|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||90 mph (140 km/h) maximum|
West of England line
The West of England line (also known as the West of England Main Line) is a British railway line from Basingstoke, Hampshire, to Exeter St Davids in Devon, England. Passenger services run between London Waterloo station and Exeter; the line intersects with the Wessex Main Line at Salisbury. Despite its historic title, it is not today's principal route from London to the West of England: Exeter and everywhere further west are reached more quickly from London Paddington via the Reading–Taunton line.
Once all sections had been incorporated into the London and South Western Railway, the sections and branches were:
The Beeching Report identified the duplication of routes from London to the West Country, therefore British Rail downgraded the line in 1967 by reducing long sections west of Salisbury to single track.This restricts the number of trains on this section, but passing loops have been added to alleviate this.
Trains between London Waterloo and Exeter run on the South West Main Line as far as Basingstoke. The West of England Line diverges at Worting Junction, a short distance west of Basingstoke.
Network Rail splits the line into two sections: the first section from the line's start at Worting Junction to Wilton Junction (near Salisbury) is classified as "London & SE commuter", while the section from Wilton Junction to Exeter is a "secondary" route. The secondary route west of Salisbury is predominantly single track, but has three sections of double track and four passing loops.The double track sections and passing loops are: a loop just outside Tisbury station, a loop at Gillingham station, double track from Templecombe to Yeovil Junction, a loop at the former Chard Junction station, 3 miles of double track centred on Axminster, a loop at Honiton station, and double track from Pinhoe to Exeter.
The line's speed limit is mainly 80–90 mph over its whole length from Basingstoke to Exeter. Speed is further limited around the junctions. The first section to Wilton Junction has a listed line speed of 50–90 mph, and the secondary section to Exeter has a line speed of mainly 85 mph with parts at 70 mph.
When the line was first opened in 1854, Worting Junction was constructed as a flat junction. 3+1⁄4 miles west of Basingstoke.This required that down trains heading west and up trains from Southampton cross each other's paths. Initially this was not a great problem, however as traffic and speeds increased the junction became a bottleneck. To relieve this, a flying junction was provided to the south, opening on 30 May 1897. This changed the arrangement so that up trains from Southampton line now crossed over the up and down Salisbury lines on Battledown Flyover,
North of Worting Junction, stopping services to/from London Waterloo and CrossCountry services to/from the North of England via Reading use the outer pair of tracks, while express services to/from London Waterloo use the inner pair of tracks. The inner pair of tracks are unelectrified through the junction and continue towards the west to Salisbury and Exeter.
Passenger services are operated by South Western Railway using Class 159 and Class 158 trains. They generally run half-hourly from London to Salisbury and hourly to Exeter, calling at Clapham Junction and/or Woking and then most stations between Basingstoke and Exeter St Davids, although some smaller stations east of Salisbury and near Exeter have a reduced service.
The 2006 Network Rail South West Main Line Route Utilisation Strategy recommended building an extended section of double track from Chard Junction to Axminster, and a passing loop at Whimple. However, Network Rail's 2008 Route Planwas silent on the Whimple loop. The Axminster Loop is centred on Axminster station, and does not extend to Chard Junction as originally proposed. The line between Basingstoke, Salisbury and Exeter is not electrified.
Beyond Exeter, the line continued to Plymouth via Okehampton and Tavistock as the Exeter to Plymouth railway of the LSWR. This line is now partly closed, with the surviving sections downgraded to branch lines. The section from Exeter to Coleford Junction, near Yeoford, is still in use as part of the Tarka Line (a community railway, which continues to Barnstaple). The Dartmoor line runs from Coleford Junction to Okehampton, having reopened to regular passenger services in late 2021, after being run as a heritage railway from 1997 to 2019. The track is still extant to the former Meldon Quarry railway station to the west, where the track breaks. Tavistock lacks a rail connection, and the final section of the original main line, from Bere Alston, continues to Plymouth as part of the Tamar Valley Line.
Stagecoach South Western Trains Limited, trading as South West Trains (SWT), was an English train operating company owned by Stagecoach, which operated the South Western franchise between February 1996 and August 2017.
The London and South Western Railway was a railway company in England from 1838 to 1922. Originating as the London and Southampton Railway, its network extended to Dorchester and Weymouth, to Salisbury, Exeter and Plymouth, and to Padstow, Ilfracombe and Bude. It developed a network of routes in Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire, including Portsmouth and Reading.
Yeovil Junction railway station is the busier, but less central, of two railway stations serving the town of Yeovil in England. The station is 2 miles (3.2 km) outside the town, in the village of Stoford. Although Yeovil is in Somerset, the station was in Dorset until 1991. It is 122 miles 48 chains (197.3 km) down the line from London Waterloo.
The Wessex Main Line is the railway line from Bristol Temple Meads to Southampton Central. Diverging from this route is the Heart of Wessex Line from Westbury to Weymouth. The Wessex Main Line intersects the Reading to Taunton Line at Westbury and the West of England Main Line at Salisbury.
The South West Main Line (SWML) is a 143-mile major railway line between Waterloo station in central London and Weymouth on the south coast of England. A predominantly passenger line, it serves many commuter areas including south western suburbs of London and the conurbations based on Southampton and Bournemouth. It runs through the counties of Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset. It forms the core of the network built by the London and South Western Railway, today mostly operated by South Western Railway. Network Rail refers to it as the South West Main Line.
Basingstoke railway station serves the town of Basingstoke in the county of Hampshire in England. It is on the South West Main Line from London Waterloo, with local and fast services operated by South Western Railway. It is the terminus of Great Western Railway local services on the Reading to Basingstoke Line. Long-distance cross-country services operated by CrossCountry to Bournemouth from Birmingham, Manchester and further north, join the main line from the branch there.
Exeter Central railway station is the most central of the stations in the city of Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom. It is 171 miles 30 chains (275.8 km) down the line from London Waterloo. The station is smaller than Exeter St Davids on the west side of the city. Great Western Railway manages the station and operates most services, as well as South Western Railway.
Pinhoe railway station is on the eastern edge of the city of Exeter in Devon, England, that serves the village of Pinhoe. It was opened by the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) in 1871 but is now operated by South Western Railway which provides services on the West of England Main Line. It is 168 miles 44 chains (271.3 km) down the line from London Waterloo.
Woking railway station is a major stop in Woking, England, on the South West Main Line used by many commuters. It is 24 miles 27 chains (39.2 km) down the line from London Waterloo. The station is managed by South Western Railway, who operate all trains serving it.
Feniton railway station serves the village of Feniton in Devon, England. It was opened by the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) in 1860 but is now operated by South Western Railway which provides services on the West of England Main Line. It is 159 miles 24 chains (256.4 km) down the line from London Waterloo.
Honiton railway station serves the town of Honiton in east Devon, England. It is operated by South Western Railway and is 154 miles 60 chains (249.0 km) down the line from London Waterloo, on the West of England Line.
Axminster railway station serves the town of Axminster in Devon, England. It is operated by South Western Railway and is situated on the West of England Main Line. It is 144 miles 41 chains (232.6 km) down the line from London Waterloo.
Crewkerne railway station is located in Misterton in Somerset, England, and serves the area around the town of Crewkerne. It is 131 miles 33 chains (211.5 km) from London Waterloo on the West of England Main Line to Exeter. The main building is listed Grade II and is surrounded by several other old railway buildings.
Sherborne railway station serves the town of Sherborne in Dorset, England. It is situated on the West of England Main Line, 118 miles 4 chains (190.0 km) down the line from London Waterloo and is currently operated by South Western Railway.
Andover railway station serves the town of Andover, Hampshire, England. The station is served and operated by South Western Railway. It is 66 miles 19 chains (106.6 km) down the line from London Waterloo on the West of England Main Line.
This article describes the history and operation of the railway routes west of Salisbury built by the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) and allied companies, which ultimately became part of the Southern Railway in the United Kingdom. Salisbury forms a natural boundary between the Southern Railway core routes in the counties surrounding London, and the long route connecting with the Devon and Cornwall lines.
Chard Junction railway station was situated on the London and South Western Railway’s West of England Main Line about 1 mile (1.6 km) southeast of the village of Tatworth in Somerset, England. It was the junction of a short branch line to Chard. It was opened in 1860 as Chard Road, and closed in 1966. An adjacent milk depot was served by its own sidings from 1937 to 1980. Chard Junction signal box remains open to control Station Road level crossing and a passing loop on the long section of single track railway between Yeovil Junction and Pinhoe.
The Salisbury and Yeovil Railway linked Salisbury (Wiltshire), Gillingham (Dorset) and Yeovil (Somerset) in England. Opened in stages in 1859 and 1860, it formed a bridge route between the main London and South Western Railway (LSWR) network and its lines in Devon and Cornwall. Its trains were operated by the LSWR and it was sold to that company in 1878. Apart from a short section in Yeovil it remains open and carries the London Waterloo to Exeter service of South Western Railway.
The Reading–Taunton line is a major branch of the Great Western Main Line from which it diverges at Reading railway station. It runs to Cogload Junction where it joins the Bristol to Exeter and Penzance line.
First MTR South Western Trains Limited, trading as South Western Railway (SWR), is a British train operating company owned by FirstGroup (70%) and MTR Corporation (30%) that operates the South Western franchise.
... the railway to Southampton at Worting Junction, near Basingstoke, and was opened to Andover in 1854, to Salisbury in ...