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British Industrial History

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West Highland Railway

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This line linked Fort William on the west coast to Glasgow. Construction was authorised in 1889, with the Act of Parliament being passed on 12 August and construction starting 23 October. The following year the branch line to Banavie Pier was authorised. The line was publicly opened to Fort William on 7 August 1894.

The line was extended to Mallaig by means of the Mallaig Extension Railway. Authorisation was obtained on 31 July 1894 and the Mallaig Extension Railway opened on 1 April 1901.

The West Highland Railway was absorbed by the North British Railway on 21 December 1908. The North British Railway was then absorbed into the London and North Eastern Railway at the Grouping in 1923.

The West Highland Railway begins at Craigendoran Junction towards Garelochhead and emerging alongside the north-westerly shores of Loch Lomond; Significant points on the journey include Crianlarich, an important Highland junction of both road and rail where the line crosses - and is linked to - the Callander and Oban Railway, and Tyndrum, the smallest place in Scotland to boast two railway stations. After Tyndrum, the line climbs onto the Rannoch Moor. The station at Corrour on the moor is one of the most remote stations in Britain. Carrying on northwards, the final stop before Fort William is Spean Bridge. A branch line was constructed from Fort William to Banavie Pier at the southern end of the Caledonian Canal.

Connections to other railways

Apart from the last section of the Banavie Branch, and several of the southern stations, the line is still open, being operated by First ScotRail as part of the West Highland Line services (which also encompasses services to Oban and Mallaig)


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