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!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

S&D Narrow Gauge Connections

The S&D has had a few narrow gauge connections. There was a 2' 6" gauge mainly roadside line linking Binegar with Oakhill Brewery, also a 2' (?) gauge peat line that crossed the branch and was involved in an accident in the 1950s when a branch train collided with a peat train in the fog. The flat crossing was apparently totally unprotected by signals! There was also the never-opened Tuckingmill Tramway at Midford, which was mooted in the 1980s.

Today we have the fantastic Gartell railway, just south of Templecombe, which although new build is very aware of the S&D connection. There is a small museum on site, also the three train sets are in the S&D colours of Prussian blue, Southern green and Midland maroon. Part of the Gartell Railway is laid on S&D trackbed, and is now being extended northwards closer to Templecombe. This is a gem of a line, fully signalled, very friendly and with a great family atmosphere - very S&D!

Operating days in 2006 are 25 June, 30 July, every Sunday in August, 28 August (Monday), 24 September and 29 October. Extensive train services are run, there are also excellent catering facilities on site.

There's another NG line quite close to the S&D, at the Bath and West Showground near Shepton. This is a superb 7 1/4" gauge line operated by East Somerset Model and Experimental Engineers, and will be running public trains at the Bath and West Show. Stage one was opened last year, the new extension along the stream towards the lake is now laid and should be operational this year.

As for the future it would be nice to see the Oakhill line relaid (possibly as a metre-gauge electric line?) connecting at Binegar, and eventually a link from Evercreech or nearby to the Bath and West Showground so that visitors can continue to enjoy the numerous shows there even after the end of road transport. And possibly the Bath Tramways, when rebuilt, will be narrow gauge including the link between Bath Spa and Bath Green Park.

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