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, June 10, 2009

beauty in the built environment

Two (deliberately non railway) shots snapped as we drove through Barrow Gurney the other day. This is the view from alongside the road and it got me thinking why every bit of roadside isn't like this. Okay, it needs a bit of effort to maintain, but does it cost any more than the alternatives? If anything (using propagation) this would cost far less than a brick or even block wall.

My point? The S&D always seemed to fit so snugly into its environment. It actually enhanced the scene. Think of Midford. Imagine Midford with a motorway through it! The S&D made Midford an even more magical place than it was before the rails came (and after they left!)

My wider point is that we could, if we choose, make all our built environment attractive. I'm sure that once we no longer have oil we will have the time to make the places we live in artistic and attractive and on a human scale. Slums, high rises, shopping malls, ring roads and railway stations with bus shelters will all become things of the past. We will have made genuine progress.
This informs my view of the New S&D. That the stations should be in the classic style, staffed, with full facilities. That signalboxes and lineside buildings will be appropriate to the wider scene, and not knocked together with no aestetic considerations but just done on the cheap.

Rail has one other huge advantage over roads. On roads there is a constant stream of traffic and noise, but even the busiest railways have long stretches of calm between trains. Between the trains the careful blending of track, buildings and scenery is actually life enhancing.
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