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, October 26, 2009


We are all in for a big reorientation over the next 20 to 30 years.

With respect to the rebuilt S&D we are not only looking at restoring the 'classic' routes, Bournemouth to Bath and Evercreech to Burnham, but adding extra capacity and flexibility by including new links to Brockenhurst via Wimborne and Ringwood and to Bristol via Pensford, and also looking at the whole provision of rail to Glastonbury and Wells by not dismissing the possibility of building a wholly new route from these two important tourist towns over the Mendips to a junction near Masbury rather than simply restoring the original route from Evercreech Junction. We also expect that the entire main line will need to be double tracked including the long Blandford to Templecombe section, though with the obvious proviso of physical limitations north of Midford into Bath!

In the wider transport field all communities will need to look at how they are actually arranged. Suburbs, where they are still viable, will need trams or ULR to continue to allow them to thrive. Businesses needing incoming and outgoing transport will need to be located next to a rail or tram route with larger concerns having private sidings. Many industries will need to reconnect using their own private industrial lines. Whole swathes of manufacturing and service industries will vanish with the withering of pure consumerism. Seaside resorts benefitting from an improving (warming) climate and the end of cheap air travel will need to ensure they are connected to the network and outlying parts of their resort connected to the nearest network station by tram. Everything will need to be sustainable both in embedded energy and energy used to operate. Farms will need to be connected to the network by light rail to allow produce to reach markets which will also, of course, need to be rail served.

And individually, and as families, we will all need to reorientate the way we live. Within 20 to 30 years the idea that we once all - or nearly all - had access to private motorised transport will seem incredible. The electric car, now the only serious option in a post-oil society, will wither on the vine as the roads themselves fail without affordable materials for repair and under the new political regimes that will do everything they can to reduce private transport, using the oil price first, then rationing then actually outlawing private vehicles. This will not of course be a concatenation of political decisions but economic imperatives, so will be applicable to anyone who is voted in. None of this is rocket science.

We'll need to change the way we work, many of us will have to relocate, as close as we can to rail transport, grow our own food and live more locally-based lives. Personally I hope we retain our love of travel even if many are counting on us giving it all up. I don't think this will be the end of history or of, indeed, progress. But I do think we are all going to have to sit back and relax for a few generations until everything is totally reorientated towards a truly sustainable society. Once that's in place technology can start to develop again. I'm sorry if I'm an incurable optimist, but it's a position I've arrived at after many decades of pushing the boundaries!

(Apologies for using continental European images for this article - but they are so far ahead of us!!)
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