Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
These are the bufferstops placed at the Bath end of Midsomer Norton station. Hopefully their stay will be a short one as the Radstock extension should begin to take shape in everybody's minds well before the line begins to actually appear on the ground! Plans may take a northwards swing once we reach the infill at Chilcompton, beyond the tunnels. The cost of removing the spoil may be greater than the cost of replacing the two bridges on the way to Radstock. Always follow the line of least resistance when restoring railways!
Why Radstock? The main reason is simply that a station at Radstock, designed for the 21st century S&D, would be a more practical base for the line than the cramped site at Midsomer Norton, which is on a steepish hill with minimal parking on site. Radstock is flat! A station on the opposite side of the road to the Mining Museum would be a huge draw to passing traffic, as well as providing a natural added attraction to the museum. We are already the two major tourist attractions in the area, and are working closely together with an eye on developments over the next few years!
A return to Radstock will also concentrate minds on the Radstock-Bath line, which in an oil-depleted world will become Radstock and Midsomer Norton's principal connection with the outside world. Personally I see the Radstock-Bath line as firstly a 'real' railway, running commuter and freight trains onto the network and, ideally, into a revitalised Green Park station. But also it must become a premier league tourist route, taking hundreds of thousands from Bath through the stunning scenery at Midford and Wellow down to the tourist centres of Radstock and Midsomer Norton, and on down to Shepton Mallet, and eventually beyond. There will inevitably be billions of government money available in the coming decades for rail reinstatement as the roads grind to a halt. We need to be ready for this. The new station at Radstock needs to be designed for through running from the very start, preferably at a level where the Bath road can be bridged rather than crossed on the level. This will be a very busy route in the future, and at least for a few years there may still be enough road transport to cause conflict! And who could resist a triumphant return to Bath?