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West Somerset Railway

At 20 miles, the West Somerset Railway (WSR) is the longest privately owned passenger rail line in the UK. It operates using heritage steam and diesel locomotives, but provides a means of transport to the local community as well as being a leisure attraction for visitors.

The railway runs along the edge of the Quantock Hills between Bishops Lydeard[?] near Taunton and Minehead[?] on the coast, via Crowcombe Heathfield[?], Stogumber[?], Williton[?], Watchet[?], Washford[?], Blue Anchor[?] and Dunster[?]. The Exmoor[?] National Park is also close.

Crocombe Heathfield station featured in the films The Land Girls and A Hard Day's Night.

The line was closed by British Railways under the Beeching cuts in January 1971, and reopened as a private heritage line at Easter 1976. Although it originally connected with the national rail network at Taunton, it's now necessary to catch a bus between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard, though the line from Taunton is now used on Gala Weekends and by charter trains.

Pre British Rail, it was part of the Great Western Railway. The earliest portion of the line was opened in March 1862 by the "West Somerset Railway Company", formed on August 17 1857. The line was built to broad gauge and desiged by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and converted to standard gauge in one day in October 1882.

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