Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Friday, January 30, 2009
midsomer norton extension
Thanks to Nick Howes for this.
Planning permission to extend the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway, south up the 1 in 53 grade, from Midsomer Norton towards Chilcompton is expected to be granted next month by Bath and North East Somerset Council, following an 18 month long planning submission by dedicated trustee Peter Russell.
It is hoped that doubling the current route mileage from 1000 to 2000 feet will enable the commencement of passenger steam trains and attract owners of BR engines to have a thrash at the formidable and legendary Southbound Mendip Mainline incline.
The double trackbed will once again by available to receive rail, although initially only the down main will be laid. The current "jungle" walkway, currently used by a few locals will be accommodated outside the up BR fence boundary with permission from 2 farmers to fence in a new path hugging their field boundary which parallels the line.
Careful selected tree removal will take place where the vegetation hinders trackbed grading, drainage, track reinstatement, the loading gauge envelope and safety lines of sight, but nearly all of the 43 year down side boundary growth will remain. The up valley side, offering the views across the Somer valley, to Midsomer Norton, Ston Easton country park and Chilcompton will be carefully thinned out. New trees will be planted elsewhere along the down side boundary to compensate, including a thick section of hedge to protect a house owner.
The current 990 foot double track works its way through the platforms at 1 in 300 on a slight reverse curve, then climbs hard left at 1 in 53. At the end of this left curve, phase 1 of the new extension will begin.
Phase 1 of the planning permission is expected next month, taking in the next 1047 feet dead straight at 1 in 53. This incorporates rebuilding the permanent way hut made of bolted sleepers and beyond this, a non original 430 foot down engineers siding will be laid on the 1 in 53 verge with trailing connection into the down main.
Before any track laying can be done, the concrete and wire fencing must be repaired, the down cess drainage pipe checked out, roots removed and levelling of the trackbed. 440 feet beyond the railhead, 500 tons of the up main trackbed has been dug out. This eats across the "6 foot" to nearly the outer down ballast shoulder in one place and is 300 feet long by 3 feet deep maximum. Along with outer up shoulder gabians, this can be filled back in at no cost by "top skimming" 6 inches off of the old weed choked BR ballast right the way up the extension.
Following the civil works, track laying on concrete sleepers and flat bottom rail can begin. A runaway trap point will be laid at the current down railhead, to protect the station limits, followed by a left hand c switch, linking the up main as the second, southernmost crossover. 10 panels of plain line take us to the right hand trailing c switch into the 7 panel down engineers siding. A further 5 panels takes us from Farmer Shearn’s trackbed to the Stage 2 boundary and Mrs Well’s trackbed and another planning application!
Phase 2 takes in a slight right hand curve, followed by another straight to the BANES/Somerset administrative county boundary, another 1037 feet.
Phase 3 takes the line slightly left over the old Mendip hunt occupation crossing then another very long straight, including bridge 48a, up to the in-filled Chilcompton Tunnel cutting, another 1918 feet.
Total line length will a little over 5000 feet. When Chilcompton tunnel infill is reached the down main will burrow left off the original formation into the hillside on the level, for 300 feet only, enough to build a medium term 3 coach halt (Somervale halt) on the level, due to health and safety regulations governing brand new stations. The 4000 feet of up main will then be laid to "catch up" with the down, enabling the spectacle of any combination of visiting engines to pass on the S&D mainline, a truly mouth watering prospect!
Total extension, 4022 feet of double track =
268 lengths of 60 foot flat bottom rail,
3216 concrete sleepers,
3216 tons of ballast.
Following consolidation, a huge fundraising drive will then strive to re-bridge silver street or dig out the quarter mile, 44 feet deep cutting of its clay capping and 170,000 tons of household and builders rubbish.
Since 1995, Midsomer Norton South has been restored to its former glory from an overgrown ruin, with a 6 figure sum being spent on the project, including 300o feet of quality permanent way, station, platforms, rolling stock and up and coming stable museum, not to mention the fabulous working replica signal box by Graeme Mayes and John Rideout. Over 800 members support a core of 30 volunteers. Please join us today and help us extend the Somerset and Dorset Mendip Mainline Project!