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!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Please leave us your comments

We always welcome feedback, comments, messages of support and questions. Please leave us a comment here!


Sunshiner said...


Middle Ditch said...

Good look, great work.

Andy said...

(From Twittter) cidermaker
1:14pm, Jan 31 from Web
@SandDrailway Site of Glastonbury station worth a look. Surprising amount survives if you know where to look.

Andy said...

2:33pm, Jan 24
Hello, love what you are doing. We are developing a website dedicated to British Railway video and I would love to gift you your own channel

Andy said...

http://www.britishrailways.tv/ worth chasing up!

Moonraker said...

What an amazing site! Congratulations for putting in so much hard work.

Anonymous said...

I have been in New Zealand for 30 years now, but a vivid childhood memory for me was holidaying from Guernsey with my aunt in Timsbury.
Going down to the Saturday Radstock Market, I would have been 8 ish (1960).
I can still picture in my mind the huge level crossing gates closing and the steam express barreling through at a great rate of knots.
Keep up your good work folks and greetings from Weymouth Auckland NZ

Tulki said...

wow! i have spent a long time reading this and finding it very informative and interesting. I dont know whether you have considered it or not, you could apply for help from the heritage lottery fund, places like tintern station have re-opened because of it! They would probably give you around £50,000 but it may be bigger depending on what you need. Early on you stated about connections to places like the bath and west showground, we at the ESSMEE have been discussing about having a branch out but it was turned down because there was nothing to connect to and it wouldnt be very good for the bank account. You have done some great work so far but sadly i must say you will probably come along a problem the East Somerset Railway have, they cant extend because they are missing a 1/4 mile viaduct and there is a house where the track used to be at the end of it even though the track bed from there to Highbridge is still there. If you do manage to buy midford im sure 7 1/4 is the way to go (for now) also allowing for the bike path to be un altered. Standard gauge is a long way off! I would suggest talking to the owners of the ESR about how they started their railway and im sure you could get some valubal information helping to start this project. Maybe (im not sure if this would work) if you got a large petition signed you could go to the council and ask. If it shows that the locals and others think its good maybe it will help them think so.
tulki jenkins

Anonymous said...

what 's up with the Sturminster Rail Group? seems their e-mail address refuses to take any messages, have they folded, anyone know?

Anonymous said...

The S&D project are inspiring me greatly. It show that everything is possible on the railway even when the government destroy or close the raillines.

From South Africa

Keith Yarwood said...

Hope to see you all tomorrow at the opening of the Trailway bridge completing the link from Stur Newton to Stourpaine.
I am sure that when the new SDJR line is up and running we will move over onto the by then disused A357.
Meet at Shillingstone Rec at 1200, then walk, pedal, ride or run to the new bridge (Gains Cross or Hodmoor); there will be minubuses back from Stourpaine to Shillingstone Rec.

Anonymous said...

Wish you luck and agree with idea but you are living in a fantasy world if you think it will ever REALLY happen; too many plots sold off and millions upon millions of pounds of infrastructure to replace. Should never have been closed - but the time to fight was 60s, like the Settle and Carlisle Railway supporters did. The only REAL railway investment likely to happen now is HIGH SPEED links, not the local loss making railways. Despite this, you are right but that doesn't mean much!

Sunshiner said...

I hate fantasy - it's a waste of energy! You won't find any in the New S&D - we are a terribly straight-laced and unsentimental lot! Businesspeople, accountants, economists and academics in the main.

Please don't just wish us
luck - join us!

Billions, not millions. We have no illusions as to the difficulty in raising money like this, but there are ways. And it will get easier as time goes by.

The S&C fight was in the 70s, the absolute nadir of railways. In fact I felt that was the turning point for rail in the UK and the S&C (I was born in Carlisle) is one of the inspirations for the S&D.

Most rail infrastructure investments in this country since have been for local routes - Robin Hood line, Airdrie-Bathgate, Ebbw Vale, Waverley route, Larkhall, Alloa, Welsh Highland Railway. HS rail is part of the future, but will hardly be ideal for freight, terrible for local rail traffic and is already causing controversy through the areas it runs, as the inhabitants can't see the benefits they'll get. It's not a zero-sum game. Remember all that former road development money is coming rail's way ...

And the S&D won't be a loss-maker in any case. Remember that dodgy accounting, hatred of the route by the regional management and a deliberate decision not to rationalise and dieselise the route, together with diversion of traffic, killed the line, not big losses. It certainly won't be a loss maker in the future - we hope to pay regular and good dividends to the shareholders!

It will happen - the only question is what sort of S&D will emerge. Let's do it our way.

Graham said...

Sunshiner: Like I said, best of luck. I was born and bred in St Kildas Road in Oldfield Park and the S&D ran a few yards from my bedroom, although I now live in SE London. Nothing would make me happier to see it run again, but as I said above in the New Year, the line was never profitable; it relied on feeder lines which also no longer exist. I COULD see, as in a glass darkly, in fifty/sixty years the transport realities will be such that the government will be looking to reopen lines, but sparse population and no industry means that this project is a non-starter commercially - although it would be great to see a preserved railway run along some of the line.

Good luck all

Eddystone said...

Well,got to admit that a recently published Peak Oil graph (presented by the New S&D Group) was pretty disturbing.It depicted current oil production hopelessly outstripping new discoveries. Don't forget that even electric vehicles need to have their power centrally generated. Road and air travel to finish?- he could be right. We could be talking semi -apocalypse or a radical change in society with its values and habits. There's a ring of truth in what he's saying and I know he's genuinely gathering support. The standard replies and rebuttals don't stack up-they are just the same old crap-something is going to happen-something akin to the St Paul's demo-some kind of quiet revolution-or even a louder one. There's something mystical about the counties of Somerset and Dorset-I'm on that wavelength. There's something magical about the S&D too-Donald had the feel for it...'Eddystone' survived for a reason -'Braunton' also-and all those 9F's! New S&D could well be a stamping ground for the PPM-there must be a not necessarily logical reason for all this fundamental back to basics thinking.Extreme maybe-impossible never! Even the New S&D don't know what they've got in their hands-but at least they admit it!