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!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

traffic jams at bournemouth

One of the advantages of being involved in such a large and long-term project as rebuilding the S&D is that you can focus on a small section, a piece at a time. But you always need to keep the bigger picture in the back of your mind!
At Midsomer Norton we've put all our energies into rebulding the station and getting that first tiny section to Chilcompton rebuilt. But with a return to Radstock now beginning to take on a concrete dimension, and with the inevitable talk of rebuilding back to Bath, it's easy to forget that the S&D also powered south, all the way to Bournemouth.
The Bournemouth area is a bit of an anomaly - a large conurbation with no real rail commuter flows. Bournemouth is in a dangerous position with Peak Oil looming. It was once very forward-looking, with a decent rail system and trolleybuses right up to the late 60s. Now it's so car-reliant it makes you wonder just how stupid the authorities down there are!
Bournemouth should be a real winner in the Climate Change/Peak Oil future. With Peak Oil ending commercial aviation and Climate Change making most of southern Europe uninhabitable, Bournemouth is going to see huge development as a tourist destination. People will need a way of getting there, and a single rail route from Southampton is highly unlikely to be able to cope with the flows.
Prior to 1964 there were four routes to Bournemouth - the surviving line, the S&D, the line from Salisbury and the Ringwood loop. The last three were all closed between 1964 and 1966. They were all stupid closures, even without hindsight! Nearing Bournemouth they served a large suburban hinterland, connecting important places like Blandford, Wimborne and Ringwood to the outside world. No-one would deny these places rail connection now, even before Peak Oil. Had they been kept they would today be very busy routes, and the towns would be bigger too. Post Peak Oil all these towns will need to be reconnected. Somehow the S&D will need to also thread through this area to bring in long-distance trains, which will jostle with the suburban and freight flows. In particular Broadstone to Poole is going to be an extremely busy route! It may be that a tramway or metro will prove to be the best solution to local transort needs, possibly on-street, in which case the S&D could retain a dedicated route south of Blandford and Broadstone. Whatever happens rail development in the Bournemouth area in the coming decades is going to be spectacular and frenetic!


Anonymous said...

An interesting article, however can the author move away from the endless Peak Oil tubthumping and move on to some serious editorial as to how this line is actually going to be rebuilt in its entirety (if indeed it ever will). For example, The Western Riverside development will completely obliterate any approach to Green Park, yet there has been no mention of this in the blog, when it would seem to be quite a crucial point. What efforts are being made to preserve and save the remaining artefacts of the S&D for future use?

Peak Oil Dreams said...

Thanks for the feedback. Not sure it's a contributor's role to suggest what I actually write about, and I keep Peak Oil on the back burner normally - but are you seriously suggesting that as a railway revival set up we should be ignoring it LOL!!?

The rebuilding of the S&D HAS to happen, unless we are all going to spend the future without moving around - a future I'd hate! But being an S&D fan I want to do it OUR way, not as a basic government-funded railway, but as a real main line doing the work it was originally built for.

A return to Bath may well be 20 or even 30 years away. Remember the Bath to Midsomer Norton route is protected by BANES as a transport corridor, so any future developments have to allow room for the rails to return. At the same time our contacts within the council keep a close eye on the route to ensure no encroachment happens, even if it's just the grabbing of part of the trackbed to extend a garden!

Efforts to save the route and artefacts are being made by the SDRHT at MN and the North Dorset Trust at Shillingstone, artefacts are held by the Washford Trust. The most important thing is that ALL S&D fans join or support the various Trusts as the more members we have the more we'll achieve.

Please also remember that this is a PERSONAL blog, not an official one. Whilst I do hold a very important role in one of the Trusts I can't do everything, to my mind the most important thing is publicity coupled with a realistic approach to rebuilding. It is going to be a very long process, at least in the short term, and reopening will proceed a few miles at a time.

I could use loads of transport economic jargon, graphs, figures etc, but I want real people to read and enjoy this blog, not be bookmarked by a tiny minority of economists!