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, December 21, 2008

'new' update

The emails etc are now flying with plenty of you asking stuff about the new Trust, also a few reporting that the Midsomer Norton Trust has now erased any reference to this blog on their website - despite it being the 'best bit' (according to you, not me!)

No problem! The new trust will fully support ALL the groups restoring parts of the S&D - there will be no need to reciprocate! We've no intention of opening parts of the line for playing trains, though we will be purchasing sections of the trackbed as they become available, to protect them until the trains return. Any sections we own that adjoin sections of restored line will be happily handed over for tracklaying!

The window of opportunity is closing. We need to get OUR line to the forefront as the reopening of lines accelerate. Resources will tighten as more and more lines are rebuilt - we need to stake our claim now.

Extract from one email reply I sent today -

The main thing is to start planning and networking now, rather than waiting for ten years when it's obvious to everybody that we need to rebuild our railways just to keep functioning.
I've always said the S&D will be reopened, but I'm worried it will be as a basic, electrified line with little or no concessions to its uniqueness/history.
One of the biggest problems we have is that most Peak Oil types expect us to be thrown back into the Dark Ages within 10 to 20 years. There's a risk that we will, but I believe that if we start reallocating resources now, then we have a chance to retain at least a degree of mobility and civilization, even if it's at a lower level than what we have today. But I've always been something of an optimist!
The key is to start rebuilding our rail network now, whilst we have the resources. 20 years in the future is too late. That's the challenge.
In a way this will be a rebirth of the original SDRHT, which has got somewhat bogged down with the minutae of setting up a tiny heritage station/line, which is really not what the Trust was set up for. It was supposed to be project-based, with MN just being one project amongst many.
The new Trust will work closely and fully support all the current groups (and cycleways) on the S&D.
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