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The Ayr and Dalmellington Railway began life as the Ayrshire and Galloway (Smithstown and Dalmellington) Railway, which received Royal Assent on 8 June 1847.
Although the line was originally to run between Waterside and Sillyhole near Dalmellington, the company evolved into the Ayr and Dalmellington Railway, which received Royal Assent on 4 August 1853 and had new plans to extend the line to both towns.
The line opened to freight on 15 May 1856, and to passengers on 7 August of the same year. The Glasgow and South Western Railway took over the line a short time later on 1 August 1858.
The line closed to passengers on 6 April 1964. The majority of the line is still open today for freight trains accessing open-pit mining sites in the area. The line between Newton-on-Ayr and the Maybole Junction is still used by passenger services as part of the Ayrshire Coast Line and Glasgow South Western Line.
Connections to other lines