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!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

pluses and minuses

We popped to Midsomer Norton today for the first time as punters.

The station looks fantastic, particularly the signalbox, platforms and the double track.

But the downsides were also present - no parking spaces (volunteers taking 95% of them despite the Board declaring two years ago that volunteers had to park off site on Sundays), absolutely no advertising for the Santa event (and no tickets, which was our reason for going) despite the event only being four weeks off - this time last year presents were bought, tickets printed and 50% sold and Santa booked. And the other problem was no signposting at all as to what the whole site is about. No details of the Trust, whether visitors could look around the site, what facilities were open and what our plans are. Two very nice notice boards were acquired two years ago for positioning by the catering coach (giving details of catering events, kids' parties etc etc) and by the main gate, but they still languish in an old coach somewhere.

As always, a visit to MN is fantastic because there's a real piece of the real S&D up and (almost) running again, but a lot more needs to be done for visitors!
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Toddingtonted said...

Many thanks for posting the photos. I must agree that the new MN looks wonderful, even on a dull November day. Unfortunately, until visitors can arrive by rail, there must be ample car parking and people must be enticed in to be able to see and read about what's going on. Most people will be curious but, if there's no obvious advertising and or parking spaces then they'll just drive on taking their money and skills with them. I've seen it happen on other heritage lines and it can be a struggle to recover from that and to get people in. Most unfortunate that I can only criticise from a distance but Sunshiner is right; get your marketing act together because money's tight and you need to sell like hell!

Janus said...

I concur. What is happening at MSN is great for the dyed-in-the-wool S&D enthusiast, but to the casual passer-by for most of the time there is simply nothing to entice you in and make you want to stay for any great length of time -other than out of sheer curiosity to find out what the heck is actually going on!