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, April 27, 2009

would you believe it?

Bristol and Bath could be connected by steam train within a decade.

The Avon Valley Railway has announced plans to extend its service from just outside Saltford to Newbridge on the outskirts of Bath.
The charity has started a consultation process to gauge local reaction to the plans.

A spokesman for the Avon Valley Railway said it would also like to run a commuter service if it can gain planning permission.

"Based on what we hear and the support of the local community, there is no doubt in our minds that we can achieve the extension," said David Cole, development manager for the Avon Valley Railway.

"We are doing our bit to reverse what happened under the Beeching axe.

"If we had some of our railways back the problems of congestion on the roads would not be anything like as bad."


Hmmmm. Even the Avon Valley Railway is beginning to look at reintroducing real trains. The original intention of the AVR (when it was the Bristol Suburban Railway) was to do just this. They were 30 years ahead of their time.

So rather than building a real rail link that would have provided an excellent alternative to the roads they ended up running a strange little museum operation taking people from Bitton to nowhere, to nowhere again, then back to Bitton. It's an odd little line, the scenery is duff, half of it is through a vandal infested housing estate, it shadows a cycle route and it doesn't even try to imitate the steam era. Bitton station is great, and they are developing it more. Whilst this will improve facilities it will detract even more from the 'feel' of the station.

This is both its weakness and its strength. Any development of the route will have to be an improvement, and to begin to develop it as a genuine, community railway is a very bold step forward. But it's exactly what it needs.

The plan is to get back to Newbridge - this is old news. Newbridge is a park and ride area for Bath. That's bus park and ride unfortunately. Ideally a tramway should be built from Newbridge into the centre of Bath. The AVR could then look at adopting tram-trains for their commuter service, running as a train on the AVR and a tram into the city.

Westwards I assume the intention will be to build back to Bristol. This would put the AVR in the enviable position of having commuter flows in TWO directions!

This will totally transform the AVR and put a modern, community railway (making a profit!) on the doorstep of the New S&D.

The New S&D has always intended to return to Bath Green Park station. When we do, then it opens up even more opportunities for modern rail travel around Bath. It would not be a huge job to connect Bath GP with Newbridge and give the AVR access to a rebuilt S&D. At the same time, providing the AVR has finally reconnected to the network at Bristol, the S&D will have a further access point to the network, giving us the flexibility that will be so important on our new railway network.

This is an excellent first step.
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