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, October 29, 2006

threats and opportunities ...

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Isfield station on the Lavender line is under threat after years of careful restoration. The threat is the potential reopening of the Uckfield-Lewes line, which closed in 1969 in a crazy bout of pointless vandalism which cut the only real alternative route from Brighton to London and robbed Uckfield of its natural route to the county town of East Sussex. Reopening and electrification is now a real possibility. The Lavender line will be compulsory purchased and will need to relocate if this happens.

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A similar situation may well arise on the Matlock-Buxton line, currently being restored by Peak Rail from the Matlock end. How this line ever closed is a mystery to me, depriving the large town of Bakewell of its link to the outside world, and cutting the direct Manchester-Derby link through an area often made impassable (to cars of course) by heavy snow.

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Meanwhile the Lynton and Barnstaple is looking at restoring eight miles of track over the next decade. Being narrow gauge and through a rural area they are hardly likely to be kicked off by the Network!

(All above info from current Heritage Railway magazine).

We fall somewhere in between. I suspect that providing we have restored Midsomer Norton to either Shepton or Bath (or preferably both!) within 30 to 50 years we may be safe and allowed to continue to operate both 'real' and heritage trains, particularly if we commit to restoring the rest of the line as quickly as possible. There's a window of opportunity which we need to utilise through very hard work, fundraising and proving ourselves before it is closed by harder heads than ours! Of course, whatever happens, the S&D will be fully restored within 50 years, but the question is what sort of S&D? One run by distant green bureacrats in London or one run by local people with an instinctive love for the real S&D ...

Over to you!


ChrisCMR said...

I wonder if the same scheme could be used in the much shorter term to block the redevelopment of Radstock GWR station site, since the Regeneration group seem to be hell-bent on building houses on it. What steps are being taken to try and thwart this, as it is by far the easiest chance of a main line link for us?

Peak Oil Dreams said...

We have made representations to the authorities. It looks like the likeliest outcome is that a small corridor will be left in place, ostensibly for wildlife, but which could serve as room for a single track in the future. Even the Development Agency are wise enough to realise that if homes are built then a rail link will have to be restored once the oil runs out!

It's not so much thwarting them that is needed, rather building a very strong case for at least retaining a cheap alternative for reinstating the line in the not too distant future. It's in everybody's interest, not least those that may be purchasing these new houses in the future.

Whilst a restored link to Frome would serve as a link into the network it won't really serve a genuine transport need, unlike restoration back to Bath/Bristol and the Regeneration Group have stated this after conducting a poll among Norton Radstock residents.