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!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

oh dear

I took a look at a forum yesterday as somebody had arrived at this site from it. There was a thread on the S&D, which was good to see. But what total rubbish had been posted. Now, I know that many people in the UK are educationally challenged, but this was beyond learning difficulties!

Some started 'I want to see the S&D restored' but then go on to say how it will never happen - but don't elaborate on why. Others say Peak Oil will mean we all stay at home and never travel. Not me! Others whine 'where is the money coming from?' I have no intention of tackling these buffoons on their little forum - all I can say to them is 'get a life' and 'wake up, it's the twenty first century, not 1971!'

But the real gem was some tosser saying 'why would the S&D need to be restored? It serves no centres of population and those it does serve doesn't deserve trains'! This arrogance makes me sick. Blandford has a population of 10,000, Norton-Radstock 21,000+. Far smaller places are served by trains. England's smallest city (Wells) is still rail-less. And what does that have to do with anything anyway? Railways aren't primarily there to serve the places in between, that's a bonus. It's the places they link that's important. The S&D linked and will link again Britain's only World Heritage city and it's finest seaside resort. At it's southern end (Blandford to Bournemouth) it is a missing commuter link serving a huge suburban area (Broadstone/Ringwood/Wimborne/Blandford). With its new links to Brockenhurst and Bristol it will tap much cross-country traffic. But, most importantly, it wll provide an invaluable freight link from the Midlands and North to the south. Via Templecombe freight can access the whole west country from the north, or London from the south west. Our railways are already almost at full capacity - how the hell are we going to tackle climate change and peak oil without the new railways actually being in place? The S&D will be a small rebuild in a huge rebuilding effort.

How will it be financed? Well the New S&D doesn't need to raise millions, only thousands to give us the resources to lobby and buy land. The millions will come later but if we haven't spent years pushing ourselves to the front of the queue who knows when we'll actually get the funds to rebuild? It could be fifty years!

And let's look at a recent example of money generation. This government has just 'created' 75 billion quid just to keep the economy going. The money is being used to buy goverment bonds, a tangible asset.

In a few years when it's clear that roads really will begin to fade and die, I suspect whichever government is in power will happily create money to buy bonds in new build railways, in fact they will be pushing like mad for it to happen. Again, the S&D will need to be at the head of that queue. We're not asking for much, just for our railway back. And it saddens me that the only people that seem to not want that to happen is a small group of 70s throwbacks who think that railway routes should be trackless, stations abandoned and our creaking road system clogged up with cars, trucks, tractors, caravans and, most hilarious of all, buses ...
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Toddingtonted said...

Well, please do not be saddened by any group of people who may put barriers in your way. I have to admit that I am probably one of those people who has questioned where the money is coming from to rebuild the S&D but I certainly don't question the importance of many of the towns along the S&D route getting their railway link back. Blandford in particular needs to be linked back to Bournemouth and Radstock/Midomer Norton need to be linked back to the national network too. I have previously questioned where on earth any of the money to purchase the S&D trackbed and infrastructure is going to come from but having seen the amount of money raised by Comic Relief in the middle of a recession (I know that's not quite the same but you know what I mean) I'm now not so sure that ther isn't any money available for rebuilding the S&D. Its not going to be easy but I'm sure that the more local support (especially from local authorities and councils) that the new S&D gets then the less difficult it will be. By the way, some of the photos posted on this blog recently have surprised me by showing just how much has actually survived - certainly built to last but it is so unfortunate that so much infrastructure was allowed to be demolished.

Sunshiner said...

I've never worried too much about where the money's to come from to purchase strategic bits of trackbed because on the S&D that doesn't amount to a great deal!

But if you really want to know where the money to actually rebuild the line as a working railway will come from, you need only look at how our road network was financed. Roads simply aren't being built any more, so money for transport (and from transport taxes) will be diverted to railways as the scale of the two major problems - capacity and energy security - become clear to everyone. Switching of freight from road to rail will leave the roads clear (for as long as people can afford to use them!) for private transport. that's why the New S&D will side with car drivers as time goes by!

It's funny but a trip up the S&D, seeing the way almost all new development has been carefully designed NOT to block the route, seeing the incredible workmanship and solidity of the structures, plus chatting to local people (who are REALLY excited about gettig their trains back!) the restoration of the S&D seems inevitable. This would not have been my view even a couple of years ago ...