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!

Monday, March 17, 2008

elsewhere





(Photos copyright Mick Knox 2008)

These are a few shots of a line not totally dissimilar to the S&D - the Great Central. Like the S&D the GC was once a very busy route linking urban areas through the countryside, serving both local communities and the nation. The major part of both routes were closed in 1966. Both lines, even in a world where oil was endless and the climate was stable, should have been retained and developed so they could fulfil a useful role into the 21st century and beyond. Now of course both routes are essential with Peak Oil and Climate Change visible to everyone.

Mick is working on a website that I think will be superb. The premise is a critique of the 'reasoning' behind the extraordinary destruction of the British railway network in the 1960s. The socialist bureaucrats that ruled the roost back then seriously believed that the railway network was no longer needed and - appallingly - would never be needed again. But even in the sixties politicians knew that oil was a finite resource and would eventually become too expensive to be practical. What were they thinking of? At the very very least the routes should have been retained even if the infrastructure was removed.

Of course the S&D and GC will be rebuilt, and probably a lot sooner than most of us expect, but the cost will be far higher as a result of the stupidity of politicians forty years and more ago. Where development has taken place there will need to be massive compensation - although many will argue that there should be none. And competition for the skills of railway workers will be fierce. This is why I have always argued - and always will - that the S&D needs to fight and claw its way to the top of the reopening pile!
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