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, December 14, 2009

what could possibly stop this?

When I did a trip down the southern end of the line back in February with Mick Knox we met quite a lot of people who were intrigued at what we were doing. Back then, before the formation of the New S&D, we were just looking to see what was left. Everyone we spoke to wanted the railway back, most adding (quite rightly) 'but please NOT steam trains!'

Of course there will be steam on the New S&D, at least at first as heritage operations originating off the line, but as the energy crisis bites harder then wood-burning steam is almost certain to make an appearance, particularly if sections of the route are non-electric or if electricity supply is not 100% reliable. But we need to take small steps, it's not really possible to expound the science and economics behind Peak Oil in a few minutes on a windy hillside! The important thing is to get the railway back!

There's an echo of this from a little anecdote shared today by member Paul Beard, who was taking measurements down at Spetisbury. A local came up, asked what he was doing, and the next thing he said was, "Everyone in the village wants the railway to come back you know".

I suspect it will be like this up and down the line. This will be our big push in 2010, to bring in the locals, the people who will use the trains on a daily basis, into the organisation.
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