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!

Monday, March 16, 2009

new thoughts

Well, the money has now started coming in to the New S&D in earnest, so I spent some time today thinking about how it should be used. Initially I'd like to use it to set up retail facilities so that we can double or treble it over a year or two. I did this at Midsomer Norton, turning three boxes of videos (!) and a box of books into a fully stocked shop, a big mail order trade, an internet shop and stock for shows etc in a year or so, pushing up profits into the tens of thousands over a few years. Then hopefully in a year or so we can start buying up strategic pieces of land to ensure that, when the trains begin to return, at least part of the route will revert to its real use quickly, painlessly and cheaply!

I also think that, certainly for the first few years, we build a team to 'do' all the shows along the route, bringing in more cash and, more importantly, new members.

I also think we need to make it clear where the heritage aspect of the S&D will fit in. I think some people are worried that with the clear aim of introducing real passenger and freight trains there will be little or no room for steam. This of course is nonsense! The S&D was the classic UK steam route, and steam will bring even more traffic for the route. I would love to see a steam centre at, say, Templecombe or Evercreech Junction, will full facilities, locos on site and regular long steam trains most weekends, fully using the route on the paths not taken by passenger and freight. And we should never forget the part that will be played by the expanding heritage sections of the route based at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone (and Gartell of course!)

Anyone who wants to see the S&D return to fulfil its destiny of linking Bath to Bournemouth should join up, and hopefully offer to help, as soon as possible! The more members we have the more of a voice we will have in the busy years to come.
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yamfaz said...

I look forwards to this moving ahead and will join as soon as the online facility is available. However, I wouldn't 'Bang on' so much about Peak Oil, the railway is needed now because the roads are jammed and they are the only real alternative to the car.

In the meantime I will help the Rother Valley Railway (www.rvr.co.uk) reach Robertsbridge.

Good luck

Sunshiner said...

Much as I'd love to see the S&D fully restored now we have to be realistic. This is a 20-50 year minimum task. Whilst congestion is of course a problem today, it is likely to become far less of a problem as the years go by - it doesn't have much of a shelf life! We'll be having to deal with the problems of Peak Oil right in the middle of restoring the route - which is perhaps both a problem and an opportunity. I don't allude to Peak Oil perhaps as much as I should, but I'm more interested in getting this line restored for many reasons, not the least that with the rapid rise in railway use - both passenger and freight - that we're already seeing it won't be long before new lines are needed to increase capacity.

I suspect that congestion will be something regarded with little more than nostalgia by the time trains are running from Bath to Bournemouth again, though saying that I think there is considerable scope for working with drivers' groups to start encouraging the removal of lorries from our roads!