The North Western Railway (NWR) is the main railway company on the Island of Sodor. It links the port city of Tidmouth with Barrow-in-Furness on the Mainland via the North Western Main Line, with several branch lines linking to towns further into Sodor's interior. The railway was formed in 1914 by the Government-backed amalgamation of Sodor's standard gauge railways for strategic reasons.
From nationalisation on 1 January 1948 until privatisation on 1 January 1993, it was the North Western Region of British Railways, though it maintained most of its operational independence. Unlike all other main line railways, it has retained steam locomotives as its main form of motive power, which has brought the railway considerable attention and traffic.
The North Western Railway was formed on the 4th of August 1914 by the Government-backed amalgamation of the Sodor & Mainland Railway, Wellsworth & Suddery Railway and Tidmouth, Knapford & Elsbridge Light Railway. The reasons for the founding of the railway was two-fold; for many years Sudrians had wanted an island-wide transportation network and a reliable connection to the Mainland to drive economic growth and fuel investment. The failure of the S&M, however, resulted in several small rail networks springing up instead and while they were moderately prosperous, they lacked the ability to truly thrive. In the waning years of the 19th century, a group advocating for the amalgamation of these small networks sprang up led by Albert Regaby, Lord Harwick. The bankruptcy of the S&M in put such discussion to bed, as neither of the surviving railways saw merit in taking over the burden of the S&M or taking the same costly risks it did.
Lord Harwick refused to give up on the idea, and continued the fight for an island wide rail network. Regaby was motivated by his role in reaching the History of the Island of Sodor, which revealed tales of a proud, prosperous Kingdom, now degenerated to a poor territory of little significance. He noted that the small networks brought local economic growth, and believed that a unified network would allow the effects to be replicated across the island and allow Sodor to forge itself a place in the world. To achieve this goal, Lord Harwick would lobby prominent members of Sodor's railway industry, and eventually gained a number of prominent supporters, including Topham Hatt, Chief Engineer of the TK&E, and Percy Onchan, General Manager of the W&S.
In 1911, the W&S and TK&E entered into merger talks, as the former wanted access to latter's port facilities at Tidmouth. Lord Harwick was approached as a neutral mediator in the discussions, and a deal was reached. The railways formed a Joint Committee, with Lord Harwick as Chairman, Onchan as Manager and Hatt as Engineer, to run the new Tidmouth, Wellsworth and Suddery Railway, commencing 1 January 1912, pending formal approval of the merger by Parliament. Parliament, however, was dogged with more important matters and approval was slow
Early History (1915-1947)
- North Western Main Line
- Arthur's Branch Line
- Kirk Ronan Branch Line
- Peel Godred Branch Line
- Edward's Branch Line
- Thomas' Branch Line
- The Little Western
- Ulfstead Branch Line
- Toby's Branch Line
- Great Waterton Branch Line
- Harwick Branch Line
- Translated from Latin, the Railway's motto is "There's nothing quite like it!"