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, January 11, 2009

the bristol option

Above are 3 views of the former Bristol to Frome via Midsomer Norton and Radstock line. This section is currently an excellent footpath and cycleway. The bottom two views show the Five Arches, the S&D route ran over the top of this, and it shouldn't be too many years before trains are running over this section of the S&D again.

The Frome-Bristol line is really in four stages these days. The first section from Frome to Great Elm is still heavily used by freight trains, carrying stone. Beyond Great Elm towards Radstock the line is still in place but disused. This section should be restored by the North Somerset Railway. At Radstock itself the site was planned for redevelopment with a strip reserved for the railway to connect with the S&D coming up from Midsomer Norton. In the current financial climate it's highly unlikely that this redevelopment scheme will proceed as it is mainly for new housing. The section from Radstock to Midsomer Norton and just beyond is a cycleway/footpath. Beyond this the line is totally disused, though the station at Clutton is slowly being restored.

Clutton restoration.

Pensford Viaduct.

The Bristol to Radstock section closed in 1968 after the severe floods which undermined the viaduct at Pensford, although the viaduct still stands. At its northern end the line served Whitchurch, a busy suburb of Bristol these days, with dreadful traffic problems! Pensford itself is totally unsuitable for lorries and the road is often blocked for minutes at a time by large lorries trying to pass each other.

'Modern' transport - Pensford style!

The New S&D will look to this line to provide a link to the network at Bristol, rather than the far more difficult restoration between Bath Green Park and Bristol via Bitton. This would allow through trains from the north to leave the main network at Bristol, run down a restored Bristol to Radstock line, then take the main S&D route south to Bournemouth. This will not prejudice restoration of the iconic route to Bath Green Park as Bath is considered a worthy destination in any case! It may well be possible to link to the network somewhere in the Bath area, giving us a second outlet to the north. These developments assume an almost total end to road traffic, probably 20-25 years into the future.

Bristol-Radstock ex-GW line

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