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!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

return to Evercreech Junction

My last trip to Evercreech Junction was in 1980.

It was good to see that the main station building is still standing, ready for purchase by the New S&D in the future.

This iconic location - and not just from an S&D perspective - is a sad sight today. It should be bustling with life with trains coming every half hour or so. There should be shops and restaurants serving the thousands of visitors coming by train. There should be trains running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It underlines the utter desolation of certain places when they lose their trains and how desperately they need them back.

In fact the whole journey today from Bristol to the Gartell Railway underlined this economic apartheid. Binegar, Shepton Mallet, Evercreech Junction - all seemed dull and lifeless with few if any amenities. Conversely the two places we did pass through that are still served by trains - Castle Cary and Templecombe - seemed lively and alive. The car park at Castle Cary was packed on a Sunday.

This contrast will become sharper and sharper as the Energy Crunch bites harder. Those people clever (or lucky) enough to live on a railway will be able to continue to go about their daily lives. Their property prices will rise (or fall less) than those who suddenly find themselves out in the sticks, with just crumbling roads and hideously expensive cars and buses to rely on. There will be a shift away from these blighted areas to those that will have a bright future. Even today properties close to railways (or more precisely stations) are worth a good deal more than those that are bereft of modern transport.

This perception will ensure that as time goes by more and more people in these areas (which, currently, sadly includes most of the S&D route) will absolutely insist that their railways are returned. But they can't all be returned at once, there will be a distinct pecking order. We have every intention that the S&D will be up there with the usual suspects - Exeter-Okehampton-Plymouth, Oxford-Cambridge, Waverley route, Great Central, Skipton-Colne, Lewes-Uckfield etc etc.
Posted by Picasa

No comments: