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 28, 2007

up platform works

Dave from Devizes manoeuvres his little digger gingerly along the up platform to provide a trench for electricity cabling to the signalbox. The box looked very cosy today with smoke curling from the chimney.

Further evidence of changes to the up platform in preparation for operating trains in 2008 is removal of the palings ready for shoring up the wall underneath. This will allow passenger trains to use the up platform. The track sections will be relaid soon as part of the Silver Street safety works.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

peaked oil

Far from waiting for Peak Oil it is quite possible that it has already peaked. A German report suggests that the peak was in 2006 and that from now on oil production will fall by 7% each year. That's against expected demand growth of around 2% a year - a 9% gap. I'll leave it to you to work what this will mean for the new S&D ...
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Sunday, October 21, 2007


The Matterhorn is the classic iconic image of Switzerland. The image is used not only to draw people to Switzerland, Zermatt and the Gornergrat but to sell products at just about every outlet in the country.

The S&D has an equally iconic image - Midford. Once rebuilt it is this section of the route that will give the S&D its USP and also recreate THE classic iconic image of Britain's rail network. It will draw visitors in their hundreds of thousands to the line and will provide us with an image that will burn itself into the conciousness of railway enthusiasts and tourists worldwide.
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back to earth

This is the house where I used to live in Switzerland. Leysin, a village of about 4000 people, has four operating stations. Midsomer Norton/Radstock, with a population of 30000+ currently has none, although it too once had four.

This is the Gornergratbahn which carries passengers and freight from Zermatt at 5000 feet asl to the Gornergrat at 10000 feet asl. It's rack operated throughout and metre gauge. For almost the whole journey the Matterhorn dominates.

As well as a superb state railway system Switzerland also has many private lines (mainly metre gauge) and tramways in the larger cities. This is a tram in Geneva running on a new line opened a few years ago - public transport is clean, efficient, cheap and intensive. What Switzerland has today hopefully the UK will have in twenty years time! It would be impossible for towns the size of Midsomer Norton, Radstock, Wincanton, Blandford, Wells, Shepton, Glastonbury and Sturminster Newton not to have a regular and intensive train service in Switzerland.
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Friday, October 19, 2007

back ...

We made it - to 10,000 feet plus. The Swiss really do show how public transport should work!

This is just a taster - much more to follow!!
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Sunday, October 14, 2007


All the hyperactivity on the blog this evening is because we're off to Switzerland tomorrow for five days, staying in Leysin and Geneva. Planned highlight is a trip on the Gornergratbahn up to the Matterhorn.
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ramblers' descent

Welcome board for our visitors from Sussex.

Just part of the spread - the lunch and buffet went down a treat!

Luckily the weather was fair so many used the patio as the coach was full.

They were treated to a nice autumnal atmosphere - something the S&D does so well.
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a quick shunt

Unusually for a Saturday, yesterday saw a genuine traffic movement on the S&D as number 10 shunts the mark one coach into the up platform ready for today's board meeting.

All in all yesterday was a very busy day for the S&D with the AGM, the Railway Ramblers' trip to Midsomer Norton and the Midsomer Norton Model Railway Show, where we had a trade stand. Now to count the cash!
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danielle, jeff and dean

Jeff and Danielle pose for the local papers during the Heritage Open Days event back in September.

Whilst the grown-ups were strutting their stuff at the AGM yesterday, the kids were having a great time around the site.

Posing by and on the Queen Mary brake van!
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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

green at last!

Two shots of the catering coach from the patio side - looking resplendent in Southern region green. Lining and lettering to follow! The coach is open this Saturday for a Railway Ramblers' buffet, AGM visitors and the usual passing trade.

Rubbing down the station side and ...

... just as I was leaving the spray gun is doing its job.
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Saturday, October 06, 2007

guilt reduction

Debs has found an excellent new site that not only calculates your carbon emissions but allows you to choose how they can be offset - and where. So you can use it to plant woodlands in Cornwall, provide simple ovens in Africa or even cancel carbon credits to prevent industries getting their hands on them. This is a great idea and one we'll be using regularly. You can even pay by Paypal! Hopefully in the future this will be another incoming cash flow for community railways that utilise sustainable energy, particularly when carbon-charging becomes part of the tax system rather than voluntary as it is now.
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Friday, October 05, 2007

very cross rail

(copyright Jeffery Grayer. Midford 1967)

So the government are planning to waste £16 billion on yet another cross London railway, which will do little more than connect east and west of a city already teeming with public transport options, a city that will probably be uninhabitable within 50 years.

Just imagine what that £16 billion could do in the real world. Restore the S&D for a start, rebuild the whole Waverley route, not just a little stub at the northern end, restore the whole Great Central, Bere Alston to Okehampton, branches to Bude, Padstow, Lyme Regis, Devizes, Midhurst, Gosport, Ringwood, Wimborne and a dozen other places stupidly currently off the rail map, and probably leave about £5 billion for tram systems in about 20 towns and cities!

At the very least the government should grant automatic planning permission for all rail reinstatements coupled with compulsory purchase powers for any land needed for new railways.

Just let us get on with the job!
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Thursday, October 04, 2007

looking nice

The three repainted wagons have been made up into a rake and really look quite smart, especially the brake van with that hideous and soon-to-be-removed 'LMS' on the other side!
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

the new bund

Two shots of the protective works at the Silver Street end of the station. The sleeper barrier is now finished.

A couple of track panels have been removed to allow the sliding buffers to be constructed.

This is the stretch of road that needs to be protected from runaways. This will hopefully be a short-term measure - bridge replacement and the extension back to Radstock are now beginning to appear on the agenda!
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