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!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

a view from the board ...

(Round about Sturminster 2009)

Simon Ellison joined the board back in January and is particularly interested in the Sturminster Newton area.

He's just posted a comment which I think should be promoted to the main blog page as it covers much of the reasons why we exist and cleverly draws together many points raised (and challenged!) here over the last few weeks.

I note, with some disquiet, the rather 'negative' comments which seem to blight all aspects of railway restoration, in whatever form that takes.

Thing is: There are ALWAYS dissenters and ne'er do well's who delight in the negativity of their own lives, and like to project on to others their attitude.

If you do not believe in something with passion, then it's best not be get involved at all - applies to life generally, not just railways.

The obstacles to reinstating a continuous rail route from Bath/Bristol through to Poole/Bournemouth are huge, but not insurmountable. Of course there will have to be deviation from the original route at various locations, but, essentially, the route in its entirety should be, and MUST be reinstated, because rail will be the only sure way of transporting heavy freight and passengers in a viable way to smaller towns and villages in the future of road degradation and spiralling fuel costs.

Councils are being squeezed like sponges for funding which will not be forthcoming for essential road repair - here, where I live, roads are like rutted farm tracks, damage to wheels, tyres and steering geometry is becoming horrendous as well as unsafe.

Roads like minor 'B' and unclassified ones are left to their own devices due to lack of funding for repairs - that situation is fuelled by inclement weather which rapidly adds to the [rapid] destruction of surface 'black top'

How will we move anywhere in relative safety without wrecking our spines and our vehicle's suspension ? Are we to remain isolated in villages which have roads not fit for purpose?

At least a rail link would mean no more road wrecking heavy trucks - all commerce conducted by small trucks/vans from RAIL depot to destination - probably by electric engined vehicles.

But, before we all fall into the trap of 'electric' propelled vehicles [of ANY sort], just remember this: electricity has to be generated - which still means oil/coal/nuclear powered generating plants - so at whatever point, there will always be some form of 'unfriendly' fuel being used to provide all this 'clean' electricity. I'm sorry, but these pathetic wind farms will just NOT fit the bill for reliable and continous power supply, besides which, they are a blot on the landscape as well being a major threat to wild life, which also has the right to exist.

Remember this: Rail over road transport has much in it's favour:

A. It is fairly unobtrusive to the environment - noise is a minor consideration, once a train has passed the sound of its passage fades back into natural surrounding sound level, unlike the continuous drone of road transport.

B. The physical space needed to run trains is much less than an A class road!

C. Many more people die on the roads than on railways.

D. The cost of fuel is slashed as ton for ton, railway transport is far more efficient [much less frictional resistance on steel rail].

E. More economical - a typical train load is equivalent to many 44 ton trucks but in ONE movement and with ONE loco.

F. Faster - over distance, rail is MUCH quicker than road.

There are many other considerations which I have not entered here, but I am preaching to the converted ! It's the general public and local government who need to be 'educated'

The monopoly of road transport is over - it's time to bring back OUR trains for the betterment of OUR lives, our children's and their children's lives.

Short term-ism has been this country's failing - it's the reason for blinded politicians wrecking a once comprehensive railway infrastructure, and HERE lies our problem. It's so much easier to destroy than construct - all for short term profit/gains which gain NOTHING in the 'long run'.

We should DEMAND government aid in repairing the damage THEY were responsible for in the first place!


Knoxy said...

Great comments Simon, and I would like to add as a passionate believer in the return of the S&D along with other lines, I don’t see why we have to deviate the route at all. There is a but coming here, and that really only applies to lakes, quarries etc. If the station was in the town centre, it should return once again, otherwise the mistakes of the past will be repeated. In all my exploring of closed and redundant trackbeds I have never come across a building of such architectural merit that it doesn’t deserve to be knocked down in the name of progress. Controversial I know, but the demand to travel isn’t going to diminish as the oil runs out, so these railways will return. Who cares about the odd out of town supermarket across the trackbed? They are a result of the roads only transport culture, unsustainable without lots of oil....

I would never buy or build a house on an old railway trackbed, as it will be blighted sometime in the near future.

Sunshiner said...

Absolutely. It's a symptom of that 1970 dinosaur/heritage mentality that railways should be excluded from town centres. They should be the very HEART of towns and villages, and indeed will have to be in the future. The first wave of railway building made the mistake, sometimes, of building out of towm - I'm thinking Lyme Regis, Brixham, Ilfracombe, Lynton etc - mainly because of the opposition of those very same dinosaurs. Yet no-one complains about bloody ROADS entering town centres!

You're right, we mustn't compromise. Anyone stupid enough to have bought a home/business on or near a railway line are asking for compulsory purchase as the railways return.

Knoxy said...

And by the same token, anyone with a business near a railway line should invest time and money in the groups promoting the rebirth. The welfare of your business and the value of your property may depend on it?

Anonymous said...

Yes, those local people and businesses that embrace and protect their local disused trackbeds for heavy standard gauge re-use or under used and run down existing railways will be ahead of the game of the rest of the councils, locals and businesses who do not, when the roads become prohibitely expensive to maintain. we will then have come full circle and it is roads that will begin to be closed and revert to nature as what was done and continues to happen to our once great railway network.


Anonymous said...

in the case of sturminster newton, what is DESPERATELY needed is to hit hit hit them with publicity about the S&D coming back. The people that will be backwardly building and living in the houses that are going to be built on the builders yard on top of the infill (£10 million worth of property) need to be made aware of their short term financial folly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! because a devaiton here is out of the question, just like at Damoury Court Blandford will be!

Anonymous said...

Wait! Just hold yer proverbial horses! The new proposed housing on Snooks yard in Sturminster does NOT have to clash with a new railway!
Representation should be made to DCC [?] or whoever, stating that if the original cutting could be cleared, a tunnel could be constructed with the new tunnel liners put in place and then the top of said liners infilled again AND reinforced for building purposes [private housing ESPECIALLY with modern materials are no huge load.
This method is common and examples are not rare, so why not combine the two projects, thereby reducing aggro, court cases and generally upsetting the status quo?
The tunnel will need to be sealed obviously, against misuse by druggies and the ilk, but when the track is ready to be laid, the tunnel is there waiting ready for use. Even if the original track bed is lowered for logistical reasons, this option at least, will provide a 'through route' for the line - even with a fairly sharp incline/decline to the tunnel portal.
What think you?