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!

Monday, July 03, 2006

the three pillars of wisdom for s&d success

Midsomer Norton South 03/07/06

To make the most of the rebuilt S&D we need to concentrate on three main pillars of activity - tourism, heritage and transport.

Tourism means that train services need to be geared towards bringing people into the area to visit the railway and other attractions. Bath is Britain’s only World Heritage City, and Bournemouth is our premier resort, so we have a head start over other railways! But until we reach Bath and Bournemouth it is the area in between that we need to push and develop. A fledgling area tourist group is beginning to take shape, with the support of BANES, with the railway and the Mining Museum at Radstock the senior partners.

Tourists are a fickle bunch, and can easily be head hunted by non-railway tourist set ups, so we need to offer a great experience at a good price, be family-orientated and customer-driven, and to be very clever with our marketing. Everyone loves a steam train, and most people love the English countryside, so we have a head start! The fascinating industrial past of the Somerset Coalfield is also a natural draw. A steam railway has the unique function of being both a tourist attraction in itself and a way of travelling between tourist attractions.

Heritage is how the new S&D will link with the old. Already Midsomer Norton station is a showpiece, particularly now the signalbox is taking shape again. We are very aware of the place the old S&D had in the hearts of railway enthusiasts, local people and lovers of the English countryside. With its family atmosphere, heavy engineering works, huge variety of trains and locomotives, and its scenic route it is almost as if it was designed as a potential huge tourist attraction for the 21st century! The new S&D will be as close as possible to the original, with manned stations, double track and express engines. The museum at Midsomer Norton will be developed as the finest local and railway history archive in the country, reflecting the importance of the S&D to writers and researchers. Each station along the route will have an add-on visitor attraction with appeal to both tourists and railway enthusiasts, encouraging visitors to alight at intermediate stations and visit the towns and villages that they serve.

Finally the transport role of the S&D as it expands will become more and more important as oil runs out. A link between Radstock and Chilcompton will already serve a transport need, but as the line expands towards Bath and Bournemouth then commuter and freight flows will also fall to us.

The original S&D should never have been closed, it should have been developed as the premier tourist attraction in southern England as well as an essential transport link. What the short sighted governments and local authorities of the day failed to do over the last 40 years we will make happen over the next 40! Posted by Picasa

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