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!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

'we are approaching midford'

Great news is that the agreement for the New S&D taking over Midford is now in the post. All we have to do is sign and we will get access to Midford and begin the rebuilding of the station. We will be paying £100 per month for just over 40 years to buy the freehold of the station and the trackbed as far as the southern end of the Long Arch bridge, about a quarter of a mile.

The intention is to rebuild the station building, signal box and associated infrastructure and lineside furniture. It is possible that track will be relaid for cosmetic purposes but no rolling stock will be sited here until the line is reinstated for real trains from Radstock to Bath. The station building, once reconstructed, will serve as an office, information centre and shop for the northern section of the route.

This will be a big step for us and should raise our profile enormously. We will put out an appeal for funds to rebuild the station as soon as we have taken the site over.
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WestfieldWanderer said...

Construction of the Two Tunnels cycle route starts soon. When it's complete we can expect a marked increase in cycle traffic past the site as it makes cycle commuting from the Wellow valley and beyond a practical and attractive option. What are your plans to accommodate the cycle route currently occupying the trackbed past the platform, especially if you lay a stretch of track?

Sunshiner said...

Tracklaying is a long way in the future, but the cycleway could divert along the top of the platform (as at Shillingstone). I can't see trains returning to Midford for 15-20 years by which time the urgency of the energy crisis will be obvious to everyone. Before that any track will be cosmetic, in fact in that case, with no stock on site, cycles could use the 'four foot' between the rails with a surface safe to use.

I have floated the idea that the New S&D should commit to providing a railway AND cycleway between Bath and Bournemouth, and I'll be bringing this up again at the next meeting.

We are working closely with Sustrans on this and don't envisage any conflict in the future as the cycleway can be far more flexible in its routing than the railway. Wherever possible the two should run side by side, with cheap ticketing for cycists and walkers, so that the New S&D takes on board the health agenda of Sustrans but also provides the primary (indeed eventually only) transport mode that wil be able to move large numbers of people and large quantities of freight.

As I've always said, there's no possible conflict between bikes and trains, we are both in the sustainable transport business!

Anonymous said...

you need to liaise with BR,banes highways, sustrans and the pub, about the pub car traffic using twinhoe lane and parking at midford b goods yards end of the viaduct and walking over the viaduct to reach the pub. The highways lines of sight are a lot safer and this woould free up the space to put back the motor trolley huts and the signalbox and have space left for s&d staff to park. This is the only way you'll recreate the whole station infrastructure. nick

Anna Metcalfe said...

That is excellent news Steve. :)

WestfieldWanderer said...

Fully appreciate that tracklaying is a long way into the future. Just concerned that the suggested length of "demonstration track" might cause an issue. The "Elf'n'Safety" mob might take exception to cycling on the platform without some kind of barrier to prevent some muppet cycling off the platform edge; and that would spoil the look of the place. Mmm. Needs a bit of thinking about...
As far as sharing the trackbed, no real problem on the double track section as demonstrated elsewhere, but probably impractical on the single track bits, especially in the tunnels, bridges, etc. But, as you say, that's probably something for the next generation to resolve.

Sunshiner said...

Cosmetic, not demonstation. Demostration suggests that something (trains etc) will be demonstrated ... but the only trains wil be real ones carrying passengers and freight, and that is decades away, unless something huge happens!

I wonder if the need for dedicated cycleways will fall as the roads empty in any case. I can see the UK being covered in abandoned roads within 20 to 30 years, or more correctly roads that have been abandoned by local authorities as too expensive to maintain. Local cycle groups could adopt these for conversion to cycleways. I appreciate that cycleways are best when flat or almost flat, and that abandoned railways provide the ideal right of way, but the whole cycleways thing was invented when people thought that railways were on their last legs and that the Beeching cuts, other than a few exceptions, would not be reversed.

For most of the length of the S&D the trackbed is built for double track, one of the exceptions is Midford to Bath, which many think should not be restored because of the difficulty of linking up with the network in Bath but should be replaced by a Midford to Limpley Stoke cut off, as well as the Bristol route via Pensford, giving two routes to the north of the line. At most the cycleway and railway will only conflict for less than a mile and I'm sure that construction of a new cycleway, on the level and paralleling the S&D, would not be an impossible task. We will certainly commit to having a cycleway as part of a sustainable transport network south of Bath.

I do feel that any government will prioritise railways as the energy crisis bites, so we'll need to work together to ensure that our cycleways within the S&D network are not threatened. That's one of the reasons we're organising now rather than decades into the future.

As you say, the nitty-gritty of this will need to be fine tuned by the next generation!

WestfieldWanderer said...

It's the what you called the "cosmetic" length of track that's of concern. I can't see that working well with the cycleway; and as stated before, cycling along the platform is a bit of a no-no.
I certainly agree with your notion that in years or decades to come that road cycling will increase (assuming the availability of raw materials to actually manufacture the things, of course) as motor traffic declines . The remaining population is likely to be leaner and meaner than currently so hilly roads will be a lot less of an issue, too. As us regular cyclists of today already know, the more hills you ride up the less of an issue they become. Something to do with getting fitter, I'm told... :-)

Sunshiner said...

The track won't even need to be steel rails - it could be a completely wooden construction with the cycleway cleverly painted to represent a track for example.

I did think that taking the cycleway along the platform wouldn't be a problem as this is done at Shillingstone and Bideford for example, but in both those cases the cycleway uses the second platform.

I think the important thing is for cyclists to be part of the decision-making process. We certainly won't give lip service to supporting cycleways then simply impose what we want. When the time comes, if it does, then Sustrans will be involved and any individual cyclists that want to get involved will also be able to.

Remember we're a non-profit making sustainable transport group and will not conflict with similar groups even if the emphasis is different.

If you're not already a member why not join and take on the cycling liaison brief within the New S&D?

Anonymous said...

At Shillingstone there will be gates either end of the Down platform and signs asking horse riders and cyclists to dismount for the length of the platform; 450 feet. This should not be an issue as 2 gates currently bisect the midford to wellow trailway. We eventually want to use the down platform and you cannot, operationally or aesthetically have a fence along a platform face. Eventually, we hope to get the farmer who owns the floodplain field on good terms with us and divert the trailway behind the down platform altogether.