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 21, 2009

what makes it worthwhile!

The signalbox almost fully restored from a pile of bricks.

Looking good along the up platform.

When the Jinty was there - 2005.

Wow - some of the seething resentment from MN has even appeared on this blog (the downside of breaking the link from the main SDRHT website!), much of it I suspect arising from the way the Board tends to ignore what's going on at ground level and coming down hard (and disproportionately) on anyone that dares to bring up perfectly valid points. Of course there are a few headbangers on the ground who will never agree with the Board no matter what they do, but one thing is certain - EVERYBODY at MN has a passion and love for the S&D. If this sometimes causes grief then what view held passionately doesn't?

The posters are right - MN should be a jewel in the heritage movement. I think from the views above it's clear that MN does get an awful lot right - but things like closed facilities on Saturdays, junk around the yard, far too many freight vehicles, other line's discards and the lack of information will turn people off.

I think the whole heritage movement needs to be shown that MN has the potential to be a fantastic credit to the whole movement. The S&D is far too important a line to have just a few miles of track relaid. MN needs to stress that its intention is to restore - at the very least - Radstock to Shepton with links to the network at each end. With this intention declared the New S&D for example could concentrate perhaps on Radstock-Bath (aquisition of trackbed etc) at first, knowing that the next 6 or 7 miles are covered. All this activity at the northern end should encourage Shillingstone to become more ambitious too!

The key is volunteers at first. MN has a large pool of volunteers (about 50 active) and they have done wonders, but this is the S&D!! There should be crowds of railway enthusiasts descending on Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone every weekend, both as volunteers and visitors. Something is wrong, and I've always considered it to be a lack of visible ambition. There should be articles on this every month in the railway press. The kudos involved in restoring the real S&D is enormous.

Perhaps when trains start running things will change, though the act of running trains will bring new problems to the line.

But in the long term this will all work through. As the S&D is restored as a real working railway then our profile will rise, when we can once again economically run big engines pulling 12 coaches over Masbury, or engage in superb engineering feats like rebuilding Prestleigh Viaduct or the entry into Bath, the whole world will see why the S&D is so special.

MN is important, possibly the most important part of the whole heritage railway movement. We all owe it to the S&D to restore the route as quickly, and as closely to the original, as humanly possible.

Two words - GET INVOLVED.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps when trains start running things will change, though the act of running trains will bring new problems to the line.........
Correct but has any progress been made on the rusty 6 wheeled milk tanker to store water ?
Are there any other heritage lines willing to lend us an ex S & D loco to bring people to the UK's famous line ?
MSN gives me the impression of treating us like mushrooms.....kept in the dark and fed on b**ls**t