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, May 12, 2007

the bigger picture

It's helpful sometimes to set what we're doing at Midsomer Norton into perspective. The S&D was over 100 miles long. We can drive for two hours and still be on the route. This week we were down in deepest Dorset yet crossed the S&D near Creekmoor, a few weeks ago on the Bristol Channel coast and there was the S&D again, at Burnham. Wimborne, Wells, Bridgwater, Bath, Glastonbury, Broadstone - all once saw S&D trains - and will again. Down at Shillingstone the S&D is beginning to reappear, on many points on the route you'll find solid, timeless reminders of the line. It is as if everyone realised the 'closure' of the S&D was just a phase, that it would be back sooner or later. Because a restored S&D, even without the converging catastrophes (for roads at least!) of Peak Oil and Climate Change, is inevitable. Large towns like Norton-Radstock, Blandford, Glastonbury and Wimborne will not survive in the future without modern transport. Businesspeople will still need markets, children will still need to get to school, people will still need to commute to work, hopefully we'll still have enough leisure time (even in a harsher world) to travel for pleasure or to find peace and quiet. The new S&D will sit perfectly into the new world, be an asset and give our area and country an edge against those that didn't see the future until too late, who stupidly tried to hang on to the past whilst the future overtook them.

We're being empowered at the local and regional level, no-one considers restoring a railway as a 'hobby' these days. Rail is back in a big, big way, on the network and outside of it. The S&D will always lead others in this respect because we look to the future rather than the past.
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