Dartmouth Steam Railway

Devon, United Kingdom | C.1859

Photo Credit: Matthew Glynn

The Dartmouth Steam Railway runs across what was formerly the Great Western Railway line between Paignton and Kingswear in Devon, England.

While the first section of the Torquay line was opened in 1848, it was another 11 years before the railway was extended from Torre to Paignton, and a further five years before the line was completed to Kingswear. The line finally opened to traffic in August 1864, under South Devon Railway management, only to be acquired by the Great Western Railway in 1876.

The Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway that is in operation today is running thanks to the efforts of the Dart Valley Railway PLC over the past 30 years. It is a commercial company running heritage railways that is unique in its management in that heritage railways typically rely on volunteer labour or charitable donations – although a few volunteers work at Churston station.

The railway opened under the control of Dart Valley Railway in 1969. Within a few years, the Paignton to Kingswear line was threatened with closure by British Railways, at which point Dart Valley acquired this section of line and began passenger services in 1973. The Paignton to Kingswear line remains fully up to main line standards, and transports some of the largest and heaviest locomotives in Britain.

Twenty one coaches make up this railway, with 19 available for service and a further two coaches refurbished for special purposes. Other locomotives visit the railway on occasion, either to supplement the fleet or to bring in special trains from the national rail network.

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