Heart of Wessex Line

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Heart of Wessex Line
Class 37s at Maiden Newton with a summer Saturday Bristol-Weymouth service in 2009
OwnerNetwork Rail
South West England
TypeSuburban rail, Heavy rail
SystemNational Rail
Ridership2,119,070 (2017)[1]
Line length87mi 20ch (140.41 km)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Route map

(Click to expand)
Heart of Wessex Line
Bristol Temple Meads
St Anne's Park
Oldfield Park
Westmoreland Road
goods yard
Bath Spa
Hampton Row Halt
Bathampton Junction
Great Western Main Line
Limpley Stoke
Bradford Junction
to Chippenham
Radstock West
Mells Road
Whatley Quarry
Strap Lane Halt
Castle Cary
Marston Magna
Yeovil Pen Mill
Yeovil Town
1943 link
Yeovil Junction
Clifton Maybank goods
Maiden Newton
Grimstone and Frampton
Bradford Peverell &
& Stratton Halt
Dorchester West
Dorchester Junction
South West Main Line
Monkton and Came Halt
Upwey Wishing Well Halt
(original station)
Radipole Halt
Weymouth Quay

The Heart of Wessex Line, also known as the Bristol to Weymouth Line, is a railway line that runs from Bristol Temple Meads to Westbury and Weymouth in England. It shares the Wessex Main Line as far as Westbury and then follows the course of the Reading to Taunton Line as far as Castle Cary.


Places served[edit]

The cities, towns and villages served by this route are listed below:[2]


Passenger services on the route are operated by Great Western Railway and South Western Railway.

Most Great Western services originate from Bristol Temple Meads or Westbury. Some originate from towns and cities beyond Bristol such as Gloucester, Cheltenham and Great Malvern.[2]

South Western Railway operate a limited service between London Waterloo and Yeovil Junction via Castle Cary. From summer 2016 there was also a "seaside special" service between Weymouth and Salisbury or Waterloo via Yeovil Junction, but this was withdrawn in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.[3]

Rolling stock[edit]

Services are typically operated with Class 165 and Class 166 "Networker Turbo" trains. These were introduced in the late 2010s after they were released from the Thames Valley during the modernisation of the Great Western Main Line, although Class 158s are still occasionally used.[4] South Western Railway services are operated by Class 159s and sometimes Class 158s.

Before the introduction of the Networker Turbo trains, the route was typically operated with Sprinter diesel multiple unit trains, typically of 2 or 3 coach Class 150, with some Class 158 trains.

Past rolling stock has included locomotive-hauled trains, including British Railways Mark 2 coaches hauled by Class 67 used to strengthen high-demand summer Saturday services in 2008–2010 between Bristol and the seaside resort of Weymouth.[1]

Community rail[edit]

A Bristol to Weymouth Rail Partnership was created in 1998 so that local authorities could support the line. In 2003 this was rebranded as the Heart of Wessex partnership and line.[5] It is designated as a community rail line.[6]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 18 March 1849, a passenger train became divided approaching Keynsham. The rear portion then ran into the front portion when the latter stopped at the station. One person was injured.[7]
  • On 20 January 1853 a luggage train was derailed near Keynsham due to an axle failure on one of the carriages.[8]
  • On 7 June 1865, a passenger train ran into the rear of another near Keynsham, and an empty stock train ran into the wreckage. At least three people were injured.[9]
  • On 4 August 1868, a passenger train collided with the buffer stops at Weymouth due to poor rail conditions and driver error. Six people were injured.[10]
  • On 28 October 1873, a mail train passed a signal at danger and collided with a luggage train at Westbury.[11]
  • On 11 June 1875, a passenger train was derailed at Bathampton Junction. One person was killed and six were injured, three seriously.[12][13]
  • On 2 July 1876, a freight train was derailed at Bathampton Junction.[14]
  • On 15 August 1876, a freight train was derailed at Hampton Row after a bale of cotton fell off a wagon and derailed the one behind it.[15]
  • On 24 October 1882, a passenger train was derailed near Cattistock when a bridge collapsed under it due to a storm. Several people were injured, on seriously.[16]
  • On 8 August 1913, a passenger train ran into the rear of another at Yeovil Pen Mill due to passing a signal at danger. Two people were killed and ten injured, two seriously.[17]
  • On 11 January 1966, an express passenger train ran into the rear of another at St Anne's Park due to a signalman's error. A locomotive was then in a sidelong collision with the wreckage. Nineteen passengers were injured. Diesel-hydraulic locomotive D 1071 Western Renown was severely damaged; D 864 Zambesi was slightly damaged.[18]
  • On 25 August 1974, a passenger train was derailed at Dorchester West after passing a signal at danger. Eighteen people were injured.[19]
  • On 24 March 1987, a passenger train and a freight train were in a head-on collision at Frome due to the freight train passing a signal at danger. Locomotives 33 032 and 47 202 were severely damaged. Fifteen people were injured, some seriously.[20][21]
  • On 10 November 2008, a freight train was derailed at East Somerset Junction due to a signalman's error.[22]
  • On 12 November 2008, a passenger train collided with a van on a level crossing at Freshford. There were no injuries.[23]
  • On 6 December 2011, a train was derailed at Westbury.[24]
  • On 24 January 2013, a passenger train caught fire at Upwey.[25]
  • On 20 March 2017, a freight train was derailed at East Somerset Junction.[26] The line was closed until 25 March.[27]


  1. ^ Heart of Wessex Community Rail Partnership. "HEART OF WESSEX RAIL PARTNERSHIP - LINE PLAN" (PDF). heartofwessex.org.uk. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Brighton, Portsmouth and Weymouth - Bristol, Cardiff, Gloucester and Great Malvern" (PDF). National Rail Timetable. Network Rail. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Proposals unveiled for direct trains between North & South Dorset". ITV News. 9 March 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  4. ^ "How the West will win with new trains". Rail magazine. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Route Prospectus, Bristol to Weymouth Line" (PDF). GOV.UK. Department for Transport. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Community rail lines". GOV. UK. Department for Transport. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Extraordinary Railway Accident". The Bradford Observer. No. 787. Bradford. 22 March 1849. p. 7.
  8. ^ "Accident on the Great Western Railway". The Times. No. 21332. London. 22 January 1853. col F, p. 3.
  9. ^ "Accident on the Great Western Railway". The Times. No. 25206. London. 8 June 1865. col C, p. 11.
  10. ^ "London and South Western Railway" (PDF). Board of Trade. 21 August 1868. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Collision on the North Western Railway". The Pall Mall Gazette. No. 2716. London. 29 October 1875.
  12. ^ "Railway Accident". The Times. No. 28340. London. 12 June 1875. p. 13.
  13. ^ "The Bathampton Railway Accident". The Times. No. 28341. London. 14 June 1875. col F, p. 13.
  14. ^ "Summary of this morning's news". The Pall Mall Gazette. No. 3548. London. 3 July 1876.
  15. ^ "Railway Accidents". The Times. No. 28709. London. 16 August 1876. col C-D, p. 11.
  16. ^ "The Storm". The Times. No. 30647. London. 25 October 1882. col F, p. 10.
  17. ^ "Great Western Railway" (PDF). Board of Trade. 27 August 1913. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  18. ^ Ministry of Transport (28 December 1967). "Report on the Collision that occurred on 11th January 1967 at St. Anne's Park, Bristol" (PDF). Her Majestey's Stationery Office. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  19. ^ "Report on the Derailment that occurred on 25 August 1974 at Dorchester West" (PDF). Railway Inspectorate, Department of the Environment. Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 20 November 1975. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  20. ^ Department of Transport (6 May 1988). "Report on the Collision that occurred on 24th March 1987 at Frome" (PDF). Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  21. ^ Vaughan, Adrian (2003) [2000]. Tracks to Disaster. Hersham: Ian Allan. pp. 10–11. ISBN 0-7110-2985-7.
  22. ^ "Derailment of two locomotives at East Somerset Junction 10 November 2008" (PDF). Rail Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Train hits van on level crossing". BBC News Online. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  24. ^ "Train derails at Westbury causing rail delays". BBC News Online. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  25. ^ "Weymouth rail services delayed by fire under train". BBC News Online. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  26. ^ "Somerset freight train derailment causes '48 hour blockage'". BBC News Online. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  27. ^ "Wiltshire-Somerset train services restored after derailment". BBC News Online. Retrieved 25 March 2017.


External links[edit]