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!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

it begins

(photos Mick Knox - S&D 6.3.2006)

I had a frantic email from Mick Knox today. He was off - immediately - to photograph the Bletchley-Claydon line. The engineers were out clearing the route ready for an engineering assessment prior to reopening. This is part of the Oxford-Cambridge line, closed - incredibly - in the 60s. He had hoped to get shots of the route before any disturbance.

Also I've just read that the Waverley route rebuilding will start a year earlier than planned, in 2010. This was another double track main line closed (in 1969), against the wishes of just about everybody. The new section will be the 35 miles from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, the cost of restoration is only £250 million. Compare this with the money wasted on road building! It will still leave Hawick rail-less, though this shouldn't be for much longer, the locals are already clamouring for its reconnection. Hawick is far too large a town to lack any form of modern transport. No doubt Peebles and Biggar will also want reconnecting to the 21st century once the rails start reappearing in the Scottish Borders.

This is good news for the S&D. Where Scotland leads England will no doubt follow. It is ridiculous that large towns (and a city!) like Midsomer Norton, Radstock, Shepton Mallet, Wincanton, Wells, Glastonbury and - incredibly - Blandford still lack any sort of sustainable transport as we approach the second decade of the twenty first century.

Our task becomes easier as each day passes.
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1 comment:

Toddingtonted said...

There's a lot of activity on this blog at the moment - must be the dark winter days! Some great photos though which helps to cheer us up - many thanks! Whilst I do enjoy reading some of the more fanciful stuff on this blog, if only to have a chuckle to myself, I am most heartened by this news, especially the reinstatement of part of the old "East-West" Oxford-Cambridge route and also the Waverley Route. Whilst I still think a complete S&D is somewhat fanciful there is no doubt that some of the communities mentioned here really do need to be rail connected again. Money is of course everything but we might be seeing some common sense at last. Not too far away from me, a new station has (finally) opened at Radcliffe on Trent and that can only be a good thing, especially if it takes traffic off the M1 nearby.