The West Somerset Railway originally opened
for full service between Taunton and Minehead in 1874. It was
always only a single track railway, in spite of the heavy tourist
traffic it regularly handled in the summer months. Surprisingly,
the volume of passengers was not enough to save the line from
closure on the recommendation of the Beeching Report. Freight
services stopped in 1964 and all trains were finally withdrawn in
As the closure was gradual, a preservation society had time to plan running the railway privately, and were able to reopen the line in stages from 1976. Now, at just over 22 miles in length, the West Somerset Railway is the UK's longest heritage railway line.