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!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

turning the clock forwards ...

'Following the success of Ian Hislop's Scouting For Boys film last year on BBC Four, Ian is returning to the channel to front a new documentary.

In Ian Hislop Goes Off The Rails, he looks at the background to and impact of the notorious Beeching Report of 1963, which led to the closure of many of Britain's rural railway lines and stations.

Was Dr Richard Beeching a kind of Genghis Khan with a slide rule, ruthlessly axing any bits of our rail network he deemed unprofitable, or was he simply the fall guy for something that had to happen?

And what was lost to the British landscape, community and way of life when the railway map of Britain shrank?

With the help of rail experts, campaigners, government advisers, railwaymen and passengers, Ian brings his customary sharp eye and wit to the subject of the Beeching Report and the cuts that followed.

And he identifies the moment that the road lobby gained the upper hand, a time when cars meant modernity and freedom and trains were deemed old-fashioned.

Commissioned for the BBC by Mark Bell, the documentary is being made by Takeaway Media.

Mark Bell says: "Did Beeching bring the golden age of the British Railways to an end, or did he save a service from collapse?
"Ian Hislop is the ideal companion with whom to explore and understand this contentious moment in transport history. He doesn't shy away – his thoughts are trenchant and wise, his mood nostalgic."

Neil Cameron, Executive Producer, Takeaway Media, adds: "This is part homage to a Britain of seaside trips and branch lines we remember fondly, and part narrative of why it all changed in the 1960s, told as ever with Ian's masterful skill, humour and passion."
The film sees Ian team up again with producer/director Deborah Lee (Ian Hislop's Scouting For Boys) and the single 60-minute programme will be broadcast on BBC Four in Autumn 2008.'


Oh dear - that bloody nostalgia word again!! What we really need is a documentary that looks into the REAL reasons for the stupid reduction of our rail service when governments MUST have known that eventually the lines would be needed again. It's still not too late to deal with the people that did this and to bring them to account ...

Let's hope that the programme at least concludes with a look forward and perhaps identify the moment the rail lobby gained the upper hand - right about now!
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