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!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

managing success

Looking forward a couple of decades the biggest problem facing the S&D will be managing the amount of custom that we'll be getting. Everything from heavy tourist traffic, freight movements and commuter services will need to be accomodated, in places on single track. If you look at the road traffic flows today on the Radstock-Frome, Radstock-Bath and Radstock-Bristol routes it's clear that after Peak Oil hits it is going to be a major job keeping things moving. As always the worry is that the government of the day will not take us seriously as operators of a real railway unless we can show right from the start that we know what we're doing. A priority now is that we acquire as much track (and trackbed) as possible. You can always support us by making a cheque out for our trackbed fund, or even pledge a certain amount each month via direct debit. Please contact SDRHTSales@aol.com for more information, send cheques to SDRHT, Midsomer Norton South Station, Silver Street, Midsomer Norton, RADSTOCK, BA3 2EY, or make a donation via the donation button on the blog sidebar (noting that it's for 'Trackbed').

It's interesting to speculate on future train services over the next twenty or thirty years. Heritage trains will always run, though these will tend to be primarily at weekends and in the summer. A lot depends on how much line is reinstated, I'd certainly expect Shepton Mallet to Bath to be restored, hopefully with trackworks extending southwards towards Templecombe. Commuter services from Shepton to Bath would be heavily patronised, particularly from Midsomer Norton northwards. There should be some freight flows as road freight begins to become totally uneconomic. There should be large tourist flows out of Bath connecting with tourist facilities to the south. There would be heavy use into Bath by shoppers, particularly at the weekend.

We're certainly not discounting restoring the line back to Bristol from Radstock, or using the old Limpley Stoke to Midford line as a second route between Midford and Bath.

And although the line south of Templecombe often seems very distant to us it will certainly not be written off - holiday passenger flows from Bath/Bristol to Bournemouth, particular in a much warmer world without civilian air traffic, could be enormous, far surpassing the line's previous holiday heyday in the 1950s. It may well be that Shillingstone expands over the coming decades to provide a southern version of the SDRHT!

We also shouldn't ignore the potential of the branches. Wells and Glastonbury are both major tourist attractions, a restored branch back to Evercreech Junction would not be a major engineering task. And further south there is huge potential in the Ringwood/Wimborne/Blandford area, which will certainly need commuter services into Bournemouth once the roads have gone!

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