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Severn Valley Railway

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Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) plc, Number One, Comberton Place, Kidderminster, DY10 1QR.

The Severn Valley Railway was used as a passenger transport route for 101 years, from 1862 until 1963.

The Severn Valley line was built between 1858 and 1862, and linked Hartlebury, near Droitwich Spa, with Shrewsbury, a distance of 40 miles. Important stations on the line were Stourport-on-Severn, Bewdley, Arley, Highley, Hampton Loade, Bridgnorth, Coalport, Ironbridge, Buildwas, Cressage and Berrington.

The original Severn Valley Railway was absorbed into the Great Western Railway in the 1870s, and in 1878 a link line was constructed from Bewdley to Kidderminster. This meant trains could run direct from the Black Country to areas of Shropshire. Most Kidderminster to Bewdley trains continued through the Wyre Forest line (dismantled in the 1960s and now a popular walking route) to Tenbury Wells or Woofferton. At Buildwas Junction (now the site of Ironbridge Power Station near what is now Telford) Severn Valley trains connected with services from Wellington to Much Wenlock and Craven Arms.

Freight traffic, mostly agricultural, and coal traffic from the collieries of Alveley and Highley were the principal sources of revenue. The line was strategically useful in the Second World War as a by-pass around the West Midlands. A very small section of the original Severn Valley line continues to carry coal traffic to Ironbridge Power Station.

After nationalisation in 1948, passenger traffic started to dwindle. The line was closed to through passenger and freight services in 1963, shortly before the "Beeching Axe" closed many other lesser used lines. A continued decline in traffic numbers led to the announcement by BR(W) in June 1962 that passenger services would be completely withdrawn between Shrewsbury and Bewdley (and also reduced south of Bewdley). At that time the British Transport Commission ('BTC') report "The Reshaping of British Railways" was still in course of preparation. The track north of Bridgnorth was dismantled. A few passenger services continued to link Bewdley with Kidderminster and Hartlebury, and coal traffic survived south of Alveley, though these activities were stopped in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

For much of its working life it was operated by the Great Western Railway and subsequently the Western Region of British Railways. Today the Severn Valley Railway operates as a heritage railway. Services began in 1970 from Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade, extending to Bewdley in 1974 and Kidderminster in 1984.

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