Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Even when all was quiet on the S&D front - the railless years from about 1970 to 2000 - the S&D lived on in peoples' minds. The books, Ivo's photos, regular magazine articles, TV programmes; all kept the S&D alive in a small way. Now we're perched on the edge of regular trains returning to a small part of the S&D the value of branding will become ever more important. Shops at Midsomer Norton, Shillingstone, Gartell and Washford all contain a range of S&D-related items. There's a particular intensity with the S&D that you really don't find with other lines. Products and the whole experience need to draw on this. Enthusiasts and regular visitors alike need to be constantly reminded how special the S&D was - and is. Once full trains are wending their way from an ever-expanding S&D we shouldn't lose sight of this. Even when we start taking on real traffic - commuters to Bath and freight onto the network - the importance of branding should increase, not decrease.
When the great national rail rebuilding starts in earnest - probably in 10 to 20 years - we need our loyal customer base to demand that the S&D be rebuilt as WE want it, not as some sort of utilitarian set-up foisted on us by central government. We want staffed stations, loco hauled trains, manual signalling, carriages with compartments etc - all the things that made the railways such a great travel experience in the past. Safe, atmospheric, efficient and sustainable!