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!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

surmountable difficulties

Now and then we get the odd visitor stating (and they always start with ‘Of course you’ll never ...’) ‘Of course you’ll never get back to Bath,’ or ‘Of course you’ll never get through the infill at Chilcompton,’ or even ‘Of course you’ll never get back to Radstock,’ (my personal favourite!) I’ve never quite understood how seemingly everyone agrees that the S&D should never have closed, but then do everything they can to build (internal) barriers to us doing the obvious and that’s bring it back!

So there’s a big pile of dirt blocking the line south of Chilcompton ... the Bluebell are currently removing a much bigger pile from Imberhorne. But then I remember reading a letter in the Railway Magazine back in the 80s which began (inevitably) with ‘Of course they’ll never restore trains north of Horsted Keynes’.

Look at Swanage, Llangollen and the Gloucestershire-Warwickshire. All started with no track, an industrial loco or two and some big ‘problems’ for the future. Swanage was threatened with the Corfe Castle by-pass - just imagine if that had been built!! The GWR has been rebuilding their line steadily at the rate of a half mile a year - and have now just reopened a viaduct that’s just as big as Midford and a lot bigger than Tuckingmill. The Llangollen have been steadily rebuilding back towards Corwen and now have a magnificent line through scenery almost as good as ours!

All ‘difficulties’ are surmountable providing the will, the skills and the money are available. We have to always bear in mind that we’re restoring the S&D, and that there are more supporters per mile of track for us than just about any other line!

This is all without Peak Oil and Climate Change, which will work together to elevate rail to the primary (and in many cases ONLY mechanised) transport mode worldwide.

The hardest part was winning the site at Midsomer Norton, restoring the track and getting people to take us seriously. It’s all downhill from here - except for the trains tackling the Mendip gradients! Posted by Picasa

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