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 30, 2008

techno paradise




St Moritz.

The four pictures above are all screenshots from various webcams in Switzerland. It seems amazing that from my council house in Bristol I can watch stuff going on a thousand miles away in real time.

Anyway the point is I've been moving with the times this end too! On my trip tomorrow I'll be taking my laptop, digital camera and new HD video camera, the plan being to actually download content whilst I'm out there, This will then be sent to various blogs (including this one of course). So hopefully there won't be a week long gap between posts like in the past. But of course a lot could go wrong!
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double vision

Some more shots from Mick Knox taken at the start of the week. The first and last really show off the quality of the double track section, it's really starting to look like authentic S&D trackwork. With Mick's determination to get the cuttings looking as neat as possible the authenticity should become a permanent feature. This is also a testament to the superb work and vision of the track gang.
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strimmed ...

Before and after shots from Mick Knox after he'd attacked the down cutting with the strimmer on Monday and Tuesday this week.
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Swiss trip

Martigny 14/6/1987

Filisur (both) 30/5/1987

St Moritz 1/6/1987

We're off to Switzerland for a week tomorrow. One of the highlights for me will be the 6 hour train trip from the airport in Geneva to St Moritz. The last two hours will be on the Rhatische Bahn from Chur to St Moritz, all on the metre gauge. It's been 21 years since I was last in this part of Switzerland. There's already been a metre of snow in St Moritz, with loads more forecast for this week.

Hopefully I'll get some nice railway shots for my various blogs!
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

US revival ...

From today's Whiskey and Gunpowder, Jim Kunstler's views on future transport in the USA.

I hate to keep harping on this — but since nobody else is really talking about it, at least in the organs of public discussion, the job is left to me — we have to get cracking on the revival of the railroad system in this country, if we expect to remain a united country. This is such a no-brainer that the absence of any talk about it is a prime symptom of the zombie disease that has eaten away our brains. Automobiles (the way we use them) and airplanes are utterly dependent on liquid hydrocarbon fuels, and you can be certain we’ll have trouble getting them. You can run trains by other means — electricity being state-of-the-art in those parts of the world that do it most successfully. I know that California just voted to create a high-speed rail link between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s an optimistic sign, but it shows more than a little techno-grandiose over-reach. High-speed rail would require a mega-expensive re-do of the tracks. We need to scale our ambitions for this more realistically. California (and every other region of America) would benefit much more from normal-speed trains running every hour on the hour on tracks that already exist than from a mega-expensive, grandiose sci-fi program that might not get built for ten years. The dregs of the Big Three automakers can and should be reorganized to produce the rolling stock for a revived railroad system.
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400+ photos - can you handle it?

I've now put about a quarter of my pics onto Picasa Web Album - accessible either via the sidebar or by clicking on the picture below
Midsomer Norton South

As more shots go on they will upload automatically - so keep looking back for more. You'll also be able to access loads more of my off-S&D photos on the same site such as
The Southern in the Eighties

Southern Region Class 33s
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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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Friday, November 14, 2008

portishead reopening

The Portishead line reopening really is a no-brainer. With car journeys taking up to 3 hours to cover the 12 miles, and with the line. signalling etc already in place except for the last three miles, this really is an idea ready to proceed with! But we ALL need to show the level of support for it.

As you may have seen in the local media FOSBR is running a postcard campaign to reopen the rail line to Portishead and the line between Avonmouth and Bristol Parkway via Henbury. Funding will become available from the government for transport priorities in the South West region in the new year. We want the West of England Partnership (ex-Avon authorities) to include them in the bid. Only items high up the regional list will receive funding. Previous funding bids have been exclusively road-based. Since the government have refused to allow Network Rail to fund these schemes, this is the only way. We think that we have a good chance, but need your support.
The postcard is now available on the FOSBR website here.

Please print it from the website, fold it in half and tape it together before you send it to the West of England Partnership. Sorry, but you'll need to provide a stamp!

Besides getting people out of their cars and into quick and efficient public transport, there are several good reasons to support the campaign

These rail links would provide a cross-city service and a new link between the Severn Beach line and Bristol Parkway.

There has been much talk about Rapid Transit. This is the original rapid transit: Filton Abbeywood to Temple Meads in 8 minutes & Parson St to Stapleton Rd in 12 minutes!

Greater Bristol rail stations have seen passenger numbers double in the ten years to 2004/5. There have been further significant increases since then. Since Bristol City Council put money into the Severn Beach line to increase the service in May, numbers increased by 30% in three months. The demand is there.

Portishead's traffic and that into Bristol along the A370 is notorious. The Henbury line runs close to major employers including Rolls Royce, Airbus and Royal Mail at Filton and would provide a public transport alternative where none may exist at present.
Road accidents!

The West of England Partnership (representing ex-Avon authorities) estimate that congestion costs local businesses £350 million a year.

Government funding will be allocated for new transport schemes in the new year but our local decision-makers must submit a bid for it prioritising the schemes they want. This gives local councillors the chance to show that they are interested in schemes other than roads and buses.

For those who see such things as important, at roughly £20 million this proposal compares very well with road schemes.
What you can do:

Please send the postcard to the West of England Partnership.

If you want physical (rather than electronic) cards to send or to give to other people please let me know and I will arrange to get them to you. The more people who are involved the better.

Please foward this email to your friends and anyone who may be interested.

If you are involved with trade unions or other organisations please would you ask your colleagues to send cards and if the organisation will issue a statement of support as that would be wonderful!

For those interested, there is a Facebook group about the Portishead Railway campaign which can be found here. There is a copy of the postcard available here too.

Also posted to transition transport UK and Panther Bites!
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norfolk orbital railway

(Photos Salhouse on Sheringham BR branch, 30.7.1984)

If you think restoring Bath to Bournemouth has some issues for the future spare a thought for the Norfolk Orbital Railway which plans to link the BR Norwich-Sheringham line to the North Norfolk and Mid-Norfolk Railways. This will create a huge loop around northern Norfolk, bringing modern transport back to this neglected corner of England and operating both commuter and heritage trains. I can foresee that their biggest problem will be line capacity.

There was a programme on TV about this last night. Most were in support of it, but amazingly Peak Oil was only mentioned once!

Also posted to transition transport UK and Panther Bites!
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

this week's other line

Something a little different this week! These are shots of Tunbridge Wells West, now on the Spa Valley Railway, after closure. This huge station once served a number of different routes, some still operating but most now closed. These photos were taken on 31st August 1988.
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this day last year

It's nice that we're now getting a new history of the S&D, it's good to see continuity after the 40 odd years of inactivity on our line.

These shots were taken exactly a year ago and show the Monday Gang relaxing. A lot has changed in the last year - but a lot has stayed the same. We're popping along to the station this Sunday so expect some new photos!
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