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, May 27, 2009

missed - and future - opportunities

The old S&D served three major national venues, and the New S&D will do the same. One was there even in 1966, one has sprung up since, coincidentally on the route and the third was actually inspired by the S&D. All will be served directly by the New S&D.

First off is the Bath and West Showground at Prestleigh. This actually is already rail served, but only internally and on the 7¼" gauge. The Bath and West Show is a really big event, and is on at the moment. As road traffic falls it will, if it plans to survive, need a rail link. This could either be a standard gauge branch off the main line, or a narrow gauge feeder route that also serves the showground internally. There are regular events at the showground, many of which attract thousands of people, so the route would be opened many times a year.

Second is the Great Dorset Steam Fair. This was inspired by the S&D and the operating company is currently looking at an internal narrow gauge permanent railway to service the site in future years. No doubt the wheel will turn full circle and the restored S&D serve the site, again either with a standard gauge branch from Blandford or an extension of the narrow gauge internal railway to a new S&D station.

Lastly is the Glastonbury Festival. This is one of the most famous and important music events in the world. Currently special trains are run to Castle Cary during the festival with onward transport by buses (LOL!) Interestingly the old S&D Highbridge branch trackbed currently serves as an internal road within the festival grounds - so building a station within the festival site will be a doddle.

Railways in the future will serve the areas they operate in far more intimately than the old lines did with many branches, tramways and ultra light rail systems connecting to the main routes. The S&D will hopefully be a leader in this new form of community transport, linking communities to each other and to the wider world.
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