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, December 06, 2009

corby ... railfuture

(Corby Station photo © Paul Beard)

Members Paul and Kate Beard recently attended the Railfuture Conference at Corby on behalf of the New S&D. We will become very familiar faces in the rail reopenings scene over the next few years. We have already had a few new members join thanks to our presence at this conference. This is his report.

The Railfuture Re-openings conference held in Corby, Northants on Saturday 14 November was a fascinating insight into what is basically the slow reversal of Dr Beeching's closures of the sixties.

My wife Kate and I arrived at 10 am after a four hour journey that was thankfully without incident and not too unpleasant a drive. We were greeted by the sight of many older men and just two other women all obviously railway enthusiasts. Whether it was the length of their journeys and early starts or maybe their increasing years but Kate had to stifle her amusement several times during the conference as a number of the audience fell asleep. Not that the speakers were boring as such - on the whole they were very good.

First up after the chairmans’ welcome was Mr Jim Wade from Railfuture East Midlands branch who was rightly proud of the achievements at Corby station; especially since they had had to fight through brambles to get to it and then there was the running of trains, then not and then coming back after much lobbying.

Next up was Councillor Mark Pengelly from Corby council who described the processes involved in bringing back the trains. There were some questions at the end about the cost of it all - £17m is rather a lot for a station. I reckon we could reinstate a whole section of S&D for that much!

Colin Eliff took to the floor next and he talked about the Woodhead project that he’s involved with. Some of his presentation was too in depth but the challenges they are facing and the ways of tackling them were interesting to note. His main argument was the fact that a road scheme in the same area would cost nearly 10 times more.

Best speaker of the day came next in the form of Bryan Barnsley from ACORPs - Association of Community Rail Partnerships. His uplifting speech and jovial manner really made what he was saying sink in. Basically ACORPs is a very small but highly knowledgeable organisation that helps smaller rail projects and also helps get communities involved. As we, the S&D, grow we will find them very useful.

After a welcome and very tasty buffet lunch, Tim Shoveller, managing director of East Midlands Trains explained their vision for the future, especially for the Midland Main Line to London. He was swiftly followed by Steve Abbott form Travelwatch East Midlands who delivered a talk on the campaign for improvements on the Liverpool to Norwich route.

Last up was Jim Bamford of Nottinghamshire County Council who gave a very informed and detailed overview of rail success in the East Midlands and their aspirations for better links with other regions.

Soon after this the raffle was drawn and then the closing speech on what had been an informative day that although not involving local regions to us, showed where the S&D could grow and how we could go about our bringing back our route.

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