Bermuda Railway FAQ


This page will try to answer your questions about the Railway. Feel free to send in any questions you may have and if you find any errors, do let me know.

Questions

What happened to the railway equipment after the Bermuda Railway closed?
In 1946 the Bermuda Government purchased the Bermuda Railway from the private company which owned it for £115,000. The decision to close the railway came two years later. In 1948 the government sold all the railway rolling stock and other equipment, right down to most of the rails and wooden sleepers, to the government of British Guiana (now Guyana), which ran that colony's railway. The Bermuda Government received £86,000 for the railway equipment.

Unlike Bermuda, British Guiana had decided to renew their equally worn out railway rather than close it down. Of course, British Guiana had a much longer history of railway operations; the first railway line there opened in 1848. The British Guiana Railway kept running until 1972.

(This information comes from Colin Pomeroy's book, The Bermuda Railway, Gone But Not Forgotten. If you are in Bermuda you can probably find a copy at the Bermuda Bookstore or at the Bookmart. See the Resources page.)
Did the Bermuda Railway have steam engines?
People often think the railway must have been steam powered since it was built in the 1920's. In fact, the railway company made the unusual choice of gasoline-powered engines. See the Rolling Stock page for details.

Bermuda has no sources of fresh water, other than rain collected on the roofs, so steam engines, with their high water requirements, would have been impractical. As well, during the debate over the railway, many people thought steam engines would be noisy and dirty. For a while the pro-railway forces were calling the proposed train a "bus on rails", presumably because this sounded less disruptive.

I have yet to find out how they decided on gasoline-powered over diesel engines, which were just becoming available by the 1930s.
Why did Bermuda build a railway in the first place?
Bermuda had been a destination for wealthy American tourists since the 1880s. It was the first winter resort, close to New York and the east coast ports. Tourists came for peace and quiet, for an escape from the bustle of modern life. Horse and carriage, along with bicycles, were the basic form of transportation.

When a few motor vehicles were imported in the early 1900s, some prominent tourists, including Mark Twain, reacted negatively, afraid that "Nature's Fairyland" would be ruined. Read No Motors, Thank You! to find out more.
The Bermudian elite didn't want to lose the colony's appeal to the Americans, but the problem of transportation in Bermuda remained. Some Bermudians decided that a railway might fill the bill, making it possible to get from either end of the island to Hamilton in an hour rather than half a day. It wasn't an easy decision, as Deciding to Build a Railway shows.
What if I have a question I would like answered?
Feel free to email me any questions. I will answer them if I can.
Bermuda Railway freight motors found in Guyana
Bermuda Railway freight motors, probably #30 and #31, have apparently been discovered being used for storage in Guyana.