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!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the new s&d - out there

Well, we're getting our name around.

David Robins, vice-chair of the Wessex Regionalists was at our Blandford meeting and this is his article which recently appeared in the Wessex Chronicle.


No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe
On the slow train from Midsomer Norton and Mumby Road.
No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat
At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street.
We won't be meeting again

On the slow train.

Slow Train, Flanders & Swann (1963)

The Wessex Chronicle has mentioned the Somerset & Dorset Railway before. Resisting absorption all the way up to nationalisation in 1948, it is emblematic of ‘provincial’ defiance of a top-down managerialist world. Until 1966 it also provided a very useful north-south rail link of which Wessex, strung out along routes serving London, has so few. But change is in the air.

This year has seen the launch of a group calling itself The New Somerset & Dorset Railway. Its long-term goal is no less than the re-opening of the line – or as much as proves practical. To provide extra capacity at the ends it includes within the project two non-S&D routes also axed by Beeching, the North Somerset line from Radstock into Bristol and the Hamworthy to Brockenhurst line into Hampshire. More immediate plans are to encourage preservation of the trackbed and station sites and to promote awareness of the potential for rail to meet future transport needs.

In September, Chairman Steve Sainsbury informed a supporters’ meeting at Blandford’s Railway Hotel (above) that re-opening is no pipe dream. Some 90-95% of the trackbed remains unobstructed by development and over time the rest can be acquired and cleared, or else diversions built. The Scottish Government is re-opening 35 miles of the Waverley line south of Edinburgh, buying up and demolishing 65 houses in the process. Growing congestion on the roads is forcing transport planners to think the unthinkable, while dwindling oil supplies can only add momentum to the cause.

In the longer perspective, the railway has only been closed temporarily. Three small stretches of line have already been brought back into use by preservationists at Midsomer Norton, Templecombe and Shillingstone. Steve emphasised that New S&D is not in competition with these groups; its aim is to ensure that the bigger picture remains to the fore, with the new railway accommodating a mix of passenger, freight and heritage trains. With careful planning, tourism can benefit greatly, the railway being both a means of access and an attraction in its own right
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1 comment:

David Robins said...

For the avoidance of doubt - and misinformation - I should point out that while I am indeed second-in-command of the Wessex Regionalists, the Wessex Chronicle is the magazine of Wessex Society, a much less specialised outfit that promotes the Wessex cultural identity from a perspective independent of any political or religious organisation.