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!

Friday, January 30, 2009

we are definitely not alone!

(Bottom pic Mick Knox)

Just posted to the message board -

I'm afraid the problems with aiming at restoring any railway, seem to be people who have no interest in providing a SERVICE eventually. Its all about playing ( ! ) "choo - choo's" and thier own self importance. There are several railways where this attitude is prevelant.

To my way of thinking, the ULTIMATE aim should be LONG railways LINKING towns, villages and other population areas that will provide an alternative to overcrowded and unsuitable roads. I imagine quite a few people who are dead because of road traffic accidents on poorly maintained and overused roads would possibly be alive and well today HAD the railways been left and used, and they had the option of travelling by rail.

However, the point of the exercise above all else in 'preservation' should be, first and foremost, track mileage and the aqquisition of such mileage BEFORE any stock or buildings are envisioned. Maybe the East Somerset COULD have reached Wells or EVEN Cheddar by now HAD the priority been track miles as opposed to engine sheds etc! All very pretty, but what use is 2 miles of track which terminate NOWHERE ! People soon tire of the short little 'hops', but if the S&D could link, say Sturminster to Blandford for example, there would be a possibility of providing local people with regular, safe and reliable transport for shopping, business and leisure also, but not least: The railway would provide JOBS from staff, to engineering to all aspects of training YOUNG people towards a sustainable and progressive industry on the rails!

Ideally, the COMPLETE restoration of S&D metals to the south coast and Bristol Channel again, with ALL towns and cities LINKED once again. Wells, Glastonbury, Bridgwater, Wimborne, Blandford, Poole and Bournemouth with 'main line' rail links at Templecombe, Poole, Bristol and Highbridge so it would be possible to travel CONTINOUSLY by rail to say Minehead via GW and West Somerset or Portsmouth via Poole and Southern main line etc etc. In other words a new NETWORK.
Posted by Picasa


GMasterH said...

With our current financial crissis and everyone trying to work as much as possible to make ends meet some railways are having problems finding enough volunteers to run a SERVICE! And I think that as long as there are steam trains it doesn't matter if they are going around in circles. It keeps the trades and skills alive ready for the next age of steam railways which is just over the horizon.

West Somerset Wizard said...

I'm sure Sunshiner expects every opportunity to spend Sunshiner's time and money in whatever Sunshiner deems important.

But Sunshiner is forgetting other people have a similar right. So, if folks want to "play choo-choos" then why not?

Even when everything seems to be in place it can still be difficult to run a "proper" service. I have a long interest and involvement with the West Somerset Railway which enjoys a connection with the main line. But the costs of running WSR trains to/from Taunton are simply many times higher than the best possible revenue. Existing Train Operating Companies have the opportunity of runnign their trains onto the WSR but again, the economics just don't make it viable. Yet. We live in hope.

Who knows one day the "new" S&DR will extend from Bath to Bournemouth once again - which would be great!

But will not be achieved unless thousands of Sunshiners fork out millions of pounds to allow Sunshiner's vision to become reality.

Sunshiner said...

I'm flattered that you singled me out, but it wasn't my post!

I'm very aware of the economic costs of extending WSR trains to Taunton, particularly the risk to Bishops Lydeard if this happens. WSR trains are NOT choo-choos, far from it. I've used the line myself as a genuine passenger, not just for a ride.

Many lines in this country offer a fantastic chance for people to take a ride behind steam locos. I really don't think ANYONE that posts to this blog would be against that. Not me, I've spent many many hours of my time making this happen.

The S&D trackbed currently hosts THREE groups that either offer steam rides or will do shortly in the future.

At the same time the routes currently operating steam trains will eventually be needed for real services, both passenger and freight. As Peak Oil progresses the emphasis will shift from heritage to real operations. Operations need not be mutually exclusive, and the WSR, Swanage and a few other lines are already realising this.

So rather than personalising this (especially when you aim at the wrong target!) remember we all want the same things!