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, December 24, 2008

New S&D update

As you can imagine my email box is full of enquiries, ideas etc pertaining to the new S&D.

The first outcome of this is that I will be dropping 'Trust' from the title of the group. This is to avoid any confusion with the existing three trusts! New Somerset and Dorset Railway says it all really, adding 'Trust' looked to some as if this would be a successor (or 'rival') to one or all of the existing trusts. This is not the intention at all. The New Railway will be first and foremost a company dedicated to rebuilding the S&D as a working steam railway, providing all the services currently provided by our dying road system. The existence of operating railways on parts of the route will be seen as a benefit, and we will work very closely with them right from the start. We'll also support any schemes for cycleways on the route, providing that they are prepared to relocate when the trains return. This is exactly what is allowed for, in example, Sustrans' constitution.

We will be offering membership, probably on a minimum donation basis at first. We will also raise funds through the normal charity channels, as well as operating retail businesses.

The primary rail-based aim will be to provide a real rail service at some point on the route, to generate additional funds for expansion and to allow company employees to gain valuable experience, as well as provide a very public focus for our activities.

Another important aspect of the New S&D will be promotion and marketing of the whole route, maing strong contacts with local, regional and national media for example. As well as pushing the S&D onto the agenda, it will also push Peak Oil, which about 90% of the population are still unaware of.

I've seen a figure of £2 billion to restore the whole route. Whilst this is a very high figure there may well be substantial funds available as central government desperately seeks ways of keeping the country moving! Think of it as a challenge rather than a brick wall! See my earlier post re inspiration ...
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