TSW: The West Somerset Railway
Arriving May 24th, Train Sim World: West Somerset Railway recreates Britain’s longest standard gauge heritage line in authentic detail, and today we’re going to visit the stations.
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Read about the history of the West Somerset Railway here.
Easily the most famous station of the West Somerset Railway, Minehead is the line’s coastal terminus and dates back to 1874. Minehead was closed with the railway in 1971, then reopened in preservation in 1976, and is today the core of all heritage operations with engine sheds, sidings, two long platforms, and a new turntable which was introduced in 2008.
The rural station of Dunster again dates back to 1874 and it was built to serve a small village and to bring visitors to the nearby Dunster Castle, giving the Grade II listed station building its grand appearance. The station also plays home to a goods shed and siding, which in preservation is where the civil engineering team is based.
Situated right alongside the beaches of the Bristol Channel, Blue Anchor station is a prominent one as it is home to the first passing loop, which was installed by the GWR in 1904. The nearby goods siding was used from the 1930s to stable a camp coach for holiday makers, and today, a total of 3 coaches are present in order to provide accommodation for the railway’s volunteers.
The second highest station on the West Somerset Railway, Washford, lies among the Brendon Hills and make for a very challenging climb into either side of the single platform, included the steepest on the line, one mile of 1:65 (1.5%). Today, passengers who alight here would typically do so for the local Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust Museum.
When the West Somerset Railway was built, its original terminus was Watchet, this 1862 station marked the end of the line and was the reason for its existence. The harbour town was once a key Bristol Channel port and had been since the Middle Ages. Getting freight traffic to this port by rail was considered essential at the time, however today it is home to the Watchet Boat Museum.
Originally, when the West Somerset Railway was in full service, no station existed where Doniford Halt does today, instead it was a brand new halt brought into existence after the line’s opening in preservation, built specifically to serve a nearby holiday camp in 1987. The halt itself is a request stop meaning trains only call there when passengers inform guard or signal the driver.
As the mid-way point of the West Somerset Railway, Williton station is another to have a passing loop, as soon after the Minehead extension was opened, the line was subject to bottlenecks. Its layout is similar in design to another station along the route, Bishops Lydeard, however today Williton stands out as being home to the locomotive workshops.
Opened with the rest of the original section in 1862, Stogumber serves its nearby village with a rather unique station, the single platform has a shelter upon it with the main station building on the other side of the rails themselves. A passing loop was once nearby this station, however this was lost in the 1960s when it never received necessary repairs.
Built around 2 miles away from the village itself, Crowcombe Heathfield station is one which has seen plenty of developments since construction; the addition, and eventual extension of passing loops and a 2nd platform helped to combat capacity concerns. This is the highest station on the line, again with steep uphill gradients present on approach in either direction.
As mentioned previously, Bishops Lydeard shares features with Williton and has grown in a similar manner since the station’s opening in 1862. For most, this is the gateway to the West Somerset Railway, the main car park is located next to the southbound platform and regular services terminate here before making their way to Minehead.
Used more for special occasions, the Norton Fiztwarren platform has existed in its current form since 2009, although originally built in 1873, and it does not exist on the regular timetable. It is situated at the base of the West Somerset Railway where a junction to the main line from Bristol exists, and it is thought that the site around it could see some development in the future.
From May 24th, you will be able to visit each of these historic locations in detail, travel past them in the classic BR Class 47 and 09 locomotives, walk across each platform in person and take in the incredible locale of the West Somerset Railway, coming very soon to Train Sim World!