Preserved Lines: Avon Valley Railway
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Each fascinating programme visits a specific heritage railway line and offers a unique insight into the considerable efforts necessary to keep that heritage railway operating.
In the southwest of England lies the Avon Valley Railway running southeast from suburban Oldland Common, through once rural Bitton and on into the beautiful Avon Valley. Built in 1865, this former Midland Railway branch line, in the heart of GWR territory, connected Bristol with Bath. Linking up with the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway, the branch line became a mainline route best known for carrying the Pines Express holiday passengers from Manchester and the Midlands, south to the sandy beaches of Bournemouth and Dorset. A victim of Dr Beeching s axe in the Sixties, the line closed to local passenger traffic in 1966 and was fully redundant by 1971. Just a few weeks before the line began its journey into preservation in 1972, the tracks were ripped up. The Avon Valley Railway s rebirth has been far from easy with many challenges along the way, but the volunteers believed their dream could become a reality, and today the Avon Valley Railway, still mostly run by volunteers, operates a regular timetable of steam and diesel services.