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!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

a new S&D gets closer every day

I can never praise Midsomer Norton enough. They have been the inspiration for all further developments on the S&D, particularly Shillingstone and, to a greater extent, the New S&D.

Last night I had the privilege of meeting Nick Howes again after a break of a few years. Nick was the person who saved Midsomer Norton from developers, with the help of local councillor Shirley Steel. I used to work with him on the Midsomer Norton Monday track gang. Nick conveyed the news that Shillingstone were now prepared to publicly support the New S&D. It's taken over a year, but I think we needed to prove ourselves first. We could have floundered, like a few other S&D groups over the years, but in fact the New S&D has flourished in a way I never dared hoped for, and I feel we've now reached that tipping point where both the wider railway community and the local population along the route realise that what we're proposing is not only viable but essential.

Imagine the situation back in the early nineties when Nick surveyed the scene at Midsomer Norton. The building was in disrepair, the signalbox just a pile of stones in a hole, the gap between the platforms was filled in, the very top of the loading gauge stuck out of a pile of tons of rubble. Imagine what the locals and railway buffs thought of the plan! Fifteen years on Midsomer Norton is just about fully restored, an absolute gem of a station, and the line will start running trains again very soon.

On the same day as the excellent news from Shillingstone we have also been embraced by the Gartell Railway who want us to appear at their next S&D Gala event and I've now heard on the grapevine that purchase of Midford - which will almost certainly happen in April or early May - will swing Midsomer Norton over to us as well.

Once all the S&D groups can present this essential united front we can really start the job of bringing back this fantastic railway! 2010 is going to be an absolutely sensational year for the S&D!
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1 comment:

Anna Metcalfe said...

That's brilliant news. I can see we're going to have a lot to talk about at the New S&D meeting on April 24th. :)