London and South Western Railway

The London and South Western Railway (LSWR or L&SWR)[1] was a railway company in England from 1838 to 1922. Starting as the London and Southampton Railway, its network extended from London to Plymouth via Salisbury and Exeter, with branches to Ilfracombe and Padstow and via Southampton to Bournemouth and Weymouth. It also had many routes connecting towns in Hampshire and Berkshire, including Portsmouth and Reading. In the grouping of railways in 1923 the LSWR amalgamated with other railways to create the Southern Railway.

London and South Western Railway
The LSWR system in 1922, 1 year before grouping
LSWR Boat train c. 1911, probably posed.
HeadquartersLondon Waterloo station
Dates of operation18401922
PredecessorLondon and Southampton Railway
SuccessorSouthern Railway
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

Among significant achievements of the LSWR were the electrification of suburban lines, the introduction of power signalling, the development of Southampton Docks, the rebuilding of London Waterloo station as one of the great stations of the world, and the handling of the massive traffic involved in the First World War.

Spreading car ownership led to a rapid decline of passenger traffic in Devon and Cornwall from about 1960 to the end of that decade so short mid-distance-from-London branches and the remote peninsular sections of route closed under the Beeching Report, except the line to Penzance from Exeter which had since the very outset been the main preserve of the Great Western Railway, chiefly due to that company's initial laying of track there and doing so on broad gauge and encouraging Devon and Cornish companies to do so under the 'Gauge War'.

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