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!

Friday, December 11, 2009

then, now, and the future

I received this card from a friend today, which is particularly appropriate as our next meeting will be on the right of this scene. This is of course classic Pines Express at Blandford. The photo below shows the amazing 'progress' made at this site!

Mmmm. From heart of the community to a bland and characterless corner of a dying town.

If you ever doubt or misunderstand what we are about, it is to switch this scene back to how it was - but with modern fast passenger and freight trains serving a thriving community, interspersed with steam specials bringing even more trade to our busy line!

Looking back at that first picture you do wonder how people were so short sighted that they allowed the S&D to close. Blandford station was close to the centre of town, even with closure of the rest of the route this section survived for another 3 years for freight - how did locals and rail enthusiasts allow it to go?? Surely it didn't take a lot of thought to understand that this section would have provided an excellent service into Bournemouth and Poole for the large town of Blandford, particularly taking into account the poor state of the roads in the area. Still, this is the 21st century, not a couple of bland and characterless decades in the 20th, and we won't ever make the same mistakes again.

I get a feeling that this will be the first part of the old S&D to be restored for real trains. I'm itching to announce wonderful news about a location on this section of our route, but I have to keep it under my hat for a little while longer!
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Anonymous said...

Well, you can't say you have news about this section of the route and then keep it quiet!! C'mon, lets all have an early xmas present!

Sunshiner said...

You know how it is - sensitive negotiations and the risk that some awkward dinosaur or two might want to throw a spanner in the works. But hopefully I'll have something solid to report by the end of next week, so it should be in time for Xmas!

Anonymous said...

Well if you don't think its safe to announce it, don't announce it! Its better to hear it later than the actual thing never happening.

Anonymous said...

Any news yet?

Sunshiner said...

Long phone call this morning from Paul Beard on this very subject! Happy to keep it here in the comments section - we're currently negotiating to take over the site of Spetisbury, first to do repair works to what is left, then to rebuild the buildings and signal box. This will then become the information office for the southern end of the line, which is a no-brainer as far as early restoration goes! This should up our profile enormously and send a message to the people of Blandford that we are very serious about getting them back on the network ASAP.

This is obviously NOT a heritage move, the line will almost certainly be electrified using third rail and will offer a normal passenger and freight service whilst also encouraging steam specials.

New S&D members will of course be able to come down to Spetisbury to work on the restoration and man the information office. Once the line is reopened then Spetisbury will once again have a train service to the village - we've every intention of reversing not only the 1966 main line closure but also the 1956 closure of numerous halts en route, including Spetisbury!