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!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

gartell impressions

Some fantastic shots from the Gartell Railway taken in July and August 2009 - on a camera phone! (By Adam).

This is becoming a real treat for steam fans and is currently the only section of the S&D which sees regular trains. Notice the S&D touches such as the crest and Pines headboard. I suspect, though stand to be corrected, that the trains sport the unique S&D headcode.

The Gartell is open twice more this year (apart from Santa Specials) on Sunday 27 September and Sunday 25 October. I'm in Majorca for the September day but will try to make the October opening.
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Anonymous said...

To reopen the whole route in Narrow Gauge - wouldn't that just be a quicker option? Hmm - dual gauge in places?

Stephen, Cambridge

Sunshiner said...

The whole point of narrow gauge is that in certain areas it is the only option. Think of the Festiniog, the Swiss mountain lines or lines in sparsely populated areas. Many of these lines survive today as they in many cases offer the only serious transport option.

But they normally only operate as LOCAL lnes feeding into the network. I doubt anyone could make the case for a main line like the S&D to be opened as narrow gauge. What would be the point? Freight transhipment at either end would add to the costs and damage our business case and whilst a few hardcore railway enthusiasts might welcome the chance to ride for 70 or 80 miles in narrow carriages I doubt many people living along the line would!

I am a narrow gauge fan and would love to see narrow gauge feeder routes to S&D stations built where a standard gauge option is not viable or far more expensive, Oakhill to Binegar for example. But as for the whole route - it definitely needs to be standard gauge feeding into the wider network at 4 or 5 points along the route. Remember that most New S&D traffic will originate or finish at places off the S&D.

Perhaps we will get dual gauge around Templecombe where the Gartell is established, though for operational reasons I suspect a more practical approach will be to lay the two lines alongside each other.