Lines in the landscape: West of England Main Line


The West of England Main Line was the Southern Railway’s “Holiday Line”: the main route from London Waterloo to the West Country: to the beaches of Devon and Cornwall.

It was also the route from London back to the childhood home, and over the years I managed to collect a few shots of the line in the landscape of north Dorset and South Somerset, where it runs through the dairy country of the Blackmore Vale; and also in south London, at Wimbledon and Earlsfield, where it shares the approach to London with the South Western Main Line.

The line is a shadow of the Holiday Line: truncated back to Exeter, pruned of all but two of its branches, and for much of the distance west of Salisbury reduced to a single track.

Nationalisation and rationalisation after the war meaning that the Southern Railway finally lost the century old competition for holiday traffic to the Great Western route from Paddington a few miles to the north.

An intercity line reduced to an hourly 3 car Class 159 diesel multiple unit service.

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