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!

Friday, March 12, 2010

wise words

Nice succinct comments from Nick Howes re yesterday's story about the new high speed link from London to the north.

a) air travel is a dying duck eg Heathrow spur and

b) the Great Central is sat there doing nothing (Berne gauge) and I’m sure that wont cost 30 billion to put back. Where do they get these inflated figures from?!

I suspect the figures are thrown about either to stop things happening or to get a huge budget!

The Great Central is such a valuable asset but at the moment its either used to shuttle a few commuter trains (Aylesbury southwards), to recreate BR in the 60s (Leicester-Loughborough - a fantastic line but still a waste as it doesn't run 'real' trains (yet!)) or, mainly, serves as a scar on the landscape that should be a vibrant and extremely busy route. It's ironic that in parts it runs alongside the M1, I can see the roles being reversed in a few decades time!

And as for connecting to Heathrow, what bloody future does even the most stupid politician think that white elephant will have?

The real issue here, and it's only been slightly touched on, is that construction of an entirely new route will cause even more destruction to our landscape. There are NO intermediate stations planned between Birmingham and London so how on earth do they plan to sell this to the communities en route? Even a motorway would have more value as it can be accessed! I don't disgree with High Speed Trains but I would still rather see existing and new routes serve the towns and villages in between BEFORE investment in High Speed Rail. There are still far too many towns and villages in Britain that are rail-less, large towns like Norton-Radstock, Glastonbury, Gosport, Ripon etc for example. Air travel is already losing ground rapidly to the existing rail network, we don't need to force this by building completely new rail routes, not yet at least. Imagine how many new rail miles could be built to the places that count for that £30 billion - probably around 500 miles. That's the whole S&D, Great Central, Waverley, Plymouth-Okehampton, Dumfries-Stranraer, Ilfracombe, Tiverton, Bude and a dozen other routes that should never have closed.

This brings up the whole secondary disaster that Beeching caused - the closing of thousands of small stations on routes that are STILL open. Most if not all of these could now be economically reopened, indeed many have, but don't they make it difficult!

If there's money like £30 billion out there for starting to get our railways up and running again let's use it to help everybody, not just every damn fool in London who wants to be in Birmingham in forty minutes!
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Probably the best post on this site for a while... I completely agree with everything you've said. All that money could achieve so much, not least the missing link from Skipton to Colne. Ho hum, Pygmy