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, May 01, 2008

a lesson for us?

Tavistock will soon be reconnected to the network thanks to a deal that will also see 750 new homes built in the town. For just £18.5 million the entire 5 1/2 mile route will be restored with a new station built in Tavistock and a journey time to Plymouth of just 35 minutes. And there is already talk of restoring the whole route back to Okehampton, giving Tavistock a quick route to Exeter and London as well!

Surely there's a lesson for the S&D here? With similar developments planned in Radstock it must now be a good time to tie in restoration of the link to Frome with the new housing development? We are all going to have to use the trains in the future - does anyone still seriously believe that the average person in the street will be a car owner in ten or even five years' time? The railway has to be restored.

More here.
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Anonymous said...

I think a lesson for you is that if the government ever does anything it's cheap and nasty!!!!! The S&D should not have to suffer such a fate. If it had not closed it would have had all the beautiful stations demolished and cheap concrete bus shelters erected like at Highbridge.

Now that the preservationists are moving in we can take our time and lovingly rebuild the line to it's former glory, unless you want sprinters and simple concrete shelters for stations instead of "Spam cans" and 9Fs storming from a new station in Radstock, up through Midsomer Norton up to a lovingly re-built Chilcompton and beyond...

Sunshiner said...

My sentiments entirely, and you're picking up on my fears - that if we're not careful restoration will be snatched from us and will not be in the style that we want!

However after Peak Oil I'm sure that the whole railway will see an extraordinary renaissance and the railway will become the heart of every community - with staffed stations, catering, carefully tended gardens etc. We'll all have far more time on our hands and be living a much slower and more laid back lifestyle! Perhaps the whole network will resemble the S&D in its prime ...

Anonymous said...

Nice though Radsock sounds, might I suggest re-building up to the foot of the hill created by filling in the cutting to Chilcompton tunnel so that there is some running line, and once you have it do you yet have sufficient motive power and stock to run the trains you aim for in the summer?????

S&D exile said...

I thought one of our aims was to provide a useful railway, not merely somewhere for us to indulge a hobby and play with a large trainset. The message of Norman Downs and others at the closure was that they believed the S&D still had a (then largely unexploited) role in meeting local transport needs. Those needs are even greater now, and as you point out, likely to grow. If we don't get on with the job, someone else (even Government) might step in and do it their way.

Sunshiner said...

Stage one is building to the foot of the infill, we are only about half a mile short of it. But lack of ambition could kill the S&D stone dead - it's taken over 15 years just to get this far. I would hope that in fifteen years time the new S&D - at the very least - will be running public service trains, passenger and freight, between Shepton and Radstock and onto the network, with serious infrastructure work also taking place between Radstock and Bath and south of Shepton. Otherwise, as both anomynous and myself fear, the S&D will simply be rebuilt as a public route with little or no sympathy for the line.

Norman Downs and others were of course right, but back in the 60s there was still 40 or even 50 years of cheap oil left, and little or nothing was known of Climate Change. Things are changing incredibly quickly at the moment, faster than even I feared, and a reinstated S&D is now absolutely essential. Talk of 'taking our time' belong to twenty years ago and have no place in future transport policy!