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!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

coming up on the down

All that lovely track on the extension has been lifted! This is however a good sign being preparation work for laying it permanently at the end of the summer once the planning permission has come through.

Why we need planning permission when all we are doing is correcting the mess made by Beeching I can only guess at, but it probably has a lot to do with keeping bureaucrats in jobs!

With hindsight surely as even in the 60s some of the government realised these lines would have to one day be reopened the least that could have been done was that ex-BR land should have been held in Trust for the nation. Rent could have been charged and it would have reduced the subsidy, rather than selling off the land for next to nothing with no rules on how it could be 'developed'. The BR Property Board is lumbered with hundreds of empty viaducts etc that it's still responsible for. I don't think it would be mischievous to suggest that Sustrans was mugged into taking on some of these responsibilities with all the costs and no returns - precisely the position BR had found itself in.

The idea behind the petition is that the government needs to relax planning rules for new railways now and also should release funds to allow the land for rail reinstatement to be far easier to acquire, combining subsidy (based on benefit to the environment and community), planning permission and (occasionally) automatic compulsory purchase in one package. This would kick start new rail building at the same time as sending a message to the wider public that the new rail age is upon us. It will also give us a head start over those sad nations that are tying their future to unsustainable (road) transport. This of course would not involve only the S&D, but many many more lines in the UK, which is covered more thoroughly in our associated Rail Revival blogsite.
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