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, January 14, 2009

the future and the much bigger picture!

The route of the S&D is sadly littered with failed schemes to preserve short parts of the route. And in the last few days we've discovered that the Clutton scheme (on the New S&D Bristol route) has also closed down.

Failed schemes include the excellent Radstock to Writhlington line, which had track in place, rolling stock, locos and a thriving membership. Two schemes at Midford also fell through.

But at last we can be pretty sure that at least three sections of the S&D (Midsomer Norton, Shillingstone and Gartell) are now secured. This is no mean feat even for a line as long and popular as ours!

But the secret to further success is to present a new, restored S&D, as a holistic unit. It will need to serve both tourist needs and 'real' needs (passenger and freight), thriving in the very difficult times 'promised' by the challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change. I firmly believe that a 'real' line will not only preserve 'heritage' aspects, but in fact will find them irreplacable in an energy-restrained world. Manned stations growing their own food which is sold in the station cafe, mechanical (rather than electronic) signalling, mechanical level crossings (whilst roads still survive), numerous sidings, locomotives and carriages rather than multiple units, steam and electric power rather than diesel - all of these things will happen because they are the inevitable outcomes of an decrease in fuel and an increase in labour availability.

As for shunting a few pretend passengers a few miles at twenty mph - that form of operation may survive exclusively for a decade or so more, but will quickly be complemented by real traffic!

More on the prospects for classic heritage operations tomorrow!
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