Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'

The original Somerset and Dorset Railway closed very controversially in 1966. It is time that decision, made in a very different world, was reversed. We now have many councillors, MPs, businesses and individuals living along the line supporting us. Even the Ministry of Transport supports our general aim. The New S&D was formed in 2009 with the aim of rebuilding as much of the route as possible, at the very least the main line from Bath (Britain's only World Heritage City) to Bournemouth (our premier seaside resort); as well as the branches to Wells, Glastonbury and Wimborne. We will achieve this through a mix of lobbying, trackbed purchase and restoration of sections of the route as they become economically viable. With Climate Change, road congestion, capacity constraints on the railways and now Peak Oil firmly on the agenda we are pushing against an open door. We already own Midford just south of Bath, and are restoring Spetisbury under license from DCC, but this is just the start. There are other established groups restoring stations and line at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone, and the fabulous narrow gauge line near Templevcombe, the Gartell Railway.

There are now FIVE sites being actively restored on the S&D and this blog will follow what goes on at all of them!
Midford - Midsomer Norton - Gartell - Shillingstone - Spetisbury

Our Aim:

Our aim is to use a mix of lobbying, strategic track-bed purchase, fundraising and encouragement and support of groups already preserving sections of the route, as well as working with local and national government, local people, countryside groups and railway enthusiasts (of all types!) To restore sections of the route as they become viable.
Whilst the New S&D will primarily be a modern passenger and freight railway offering state of the art trains and services, we will also restore the infrastructure to the highest standards and encourage steam working and steam specials over all sections of the route, as well as work very closely with existing heritage lines established on the route.

This blog contains my personal views. Anything said here does not necessarily represent the aims or views of any of the groups currently restoring, preserving or operating trains over the Somerset and Dorset Railway!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Developments at Midford

To me Midford was always the most iconic point on the S&D, with the viaduct and the line on a ledge on the hillside. The opening scene in 'The Titfield Thunderbolt' captures this perfectly, as do many of the photos of the line.

There were earlier attempts to restore the line near Midford, first as a narrow gauge private line (The Tuckingmill Tramway) and later in the 90s as a standard gauge line running from Midford station to Tuckingmill viaduct. The latter failed due to access problems, also because the preservation group were seen as outsiders. The platform was resurfaced and ballast laid. Trains will return to Midford eventually, but only as part of a much longer route, coming up from Radstock and Shepton to the south, and providing a proper commuter link into Bath, as well as a huge tourist and community resource.

In the meantime the line has been nicely restored as a cycleway, the viaduct has been reopened giving excellent views across the valley and work has begun on the stretch north of Midford towards Tuckingmill.

The S&D continues to burst into life all along the route, its integrity and right-of-way is being restored, and these new uses will bring ever more people to the S&D, adding to the clamour for its return, sooner rather than later. Once the line is relaid through the Midford valley the cycleway will hopefully continue to share the route, providing an easy and level journey through some of the finest countryside in southern England and allowing interchange between cycles and trains at the stations along the line.

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