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!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

defensive branding!

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!
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David B said...

Here, Here! There is however one possible problem... once a line reaches a certain length, I'm pretty sure the law requires the line owner to offer the franchise to run rolling stock on it to the private sector. I seem to remember that one local route (I think it was Avon Valley Railway) had to offer their line to companies such as Virgin and GWR. Fortunately, the companies refused the offer, which allowed the line to continue running their own steam trains on it.

Anonymous said...

i highly doubt the government would listen to preservationists if the s+d was to be reopened, i expect we would see a very basic layout with very basic stations, with dmu's used to provide a 'service' and it would probably have colour light signalling although with the time frame given it might even be ertms from the outstart, so no signals whatsoever

Anonymous said...

agreed with most of this except the loco hauled trains, manual signalling and carriages with compartments. personally id prefer decent modern signalling and modern fast electric trains. thats where the future is at. altho id still like the stations to keep their old fashioned charm not be just buss shelters etc.


Anonymous said...

i think if they were to electrify the constraints of the two tunnels at bath would come into play which would mean third rail which they do not like to install anymore

Freddie said...

I don't think we need be too pessimistic here. Look at the Settle and Carlise - immaculately restored stations maintained and staffed by a trust, who also provide the on-train catering and souvenir sales. The Liskeard & Looe line is beginning to follow this model too. Then there's the NYMR now running trains into Whitby. Things are beginning to change and, if we keep pushing, the rigid division betwwen commerical lines and resotred lines could well be a thing of the past in 20 years time.

matthew said...

What can we do about it anything?