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, March 13, 2010

more sheringham

A couple of shots from Keith Browning from the link up at Sheringham on 11 March 2010. Although only about 300 yards in length this was a momentous day for North Norfolk, heritage railways, the Network and our transport future.

With the link in place I'm going to take the first opportunity to get and see the line in the flesh!
A full report (source) follows -
The North Norfolk Railway (NNR) has been reconnected to the National Rail network for the first time in 46 years.

The steam locomotive Oliver Cromwell carried the first passengers over the new tramway-style crossing at Sheringham on Thursday, 11 March 2010.

More than £140,000 has been raised to install a link to connect the Poppy Line, which runs to Holt, to the national Bittern Line.

Record producer and rail enthusiast Pete Waterman attended the event.

"It's been an amazing achievement. It's something for the future, for youngsters to get involved with," he said.

The "occasional use" level crossing features 300 yards (274.32m) of new rails to connect Sheringham Station on the North Norfolk Railway to Network Rail's halt - the end point of the Bittern Line which runs to Norwich.

The original crossing over Station Road was initially closed as part of Dr Beeching's railway reform in the 1960s.

Although National Express mainline services will continue to use their existing halt, the reopening of the crossing will allow steam charter trains and visiting locomotives to reach the NNR via the National Rail network.

The North Norfolk railway from Holt to Sheringham will have a direct link to Norwich

This will bring an estimated 3,600 - 4,800 extra people from London to north Norfolk every year, improving the NNR's current annual turnover of £1.2m.


Work started on the crossing on Saturday, 9 January 2010 and the reconnection has been made possible by an anonymous £30,000 loan on top of £25,000 from Norfolk County Council, £5,000 from North Norfolk District Council and other personal donations.
Any extra money donated will be placed in the existing fund towards a new canopy on platform two at Sheringham, which will replicate the original look of the station.

"The great thing about steam railways, particularly in rural communities is it becomes important to them because it brings people in to see the engines, take a ride, and that has a knock on effect to the shops and local businesses," said Mr Waterman.

But is that idealistic vision accurate?

In the age of many families having more than one car, who will use the line and will it create a significant impact on the local economy?

The "occasional use" steam line will chug up to Norfolk no more than 12 times a year.
With thousands of pounds being spent on the crossing, is this just a case of nostalgia gone too far or is there money to be made?

"A bit of both," said Colin Borg, marketing director for the NNR.

"It is too early to give a specific figure… but there is money to be made in nostalgia. Last year 130,000 tickets were bought for trains on the North Norfolk Railway and from our research, those people came to expressly ride on the trains.

"The steam charter trains, similar to the Cathedral Express that visits Norwich, can take around 300-400 passengers. The ones that come to Sheringham will expect to arrive Friday night or Saturday and return on Sunday - those people will need accommodation.

"We are not looking in the Euromillions category here, but we expect some money to be made. However, steam engines are an extremely expensive business," he added.

Tourist travel for communities in Weybourne, Kelling Heath Holiday Park and Holt to London is currently not in the NNR's plans, but Colin is optimistic.

"In the future, say 20, 30, 40 years, we could see passenger transport the other way from Holt to London, but that is all a long way away," he said.

Norfolk Orbital Railway
The Holt, Melton Constable and Fakenham Railway Ltd, which has been pursuing this first Sheringham link as part of the Norfolk Orbital Railway project, also hopes that "occasional use" can be made more regular.

The company is also looking to link Fakenham to the Mid Norfolk Railway.
"The Norfolk Orbital Railway project is for the community and the environment," said Trevor Bailey, director of Norfolk Orbital Railway.

"We are not doing this for any sort of personal profit. It is hard, unpaid work but rewarding because we believe strongly in rail transport."
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