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, April 03, 2010

basic railway? Never!

One of the main purposes of the New S&D is to prevent a rebuilt S&D - now generally agreed to be essential - becoming a 21st century version of the 'basic railway' which was forced on us in the 70s and 80s of the last century. Station buildings, once full of life and the centre of communities, were demolished to make way for vile 'bus shelters' which quickly became vandalised and put off the few remaining customers. Much of the railway infrastructure disappeared as the railways were 'rationalised' in a foolhardy attempt to reduce costs. The measures did of course decrease costs, but they also decreased INCOME, as passengers left the railways in droves as the whole atmosphere went downhill. This was Beeching's true legacy, not so much the miles of empty trackbed but the degradation of what was left.

Look closely at the picture at the top of the page. This is the railway enhancing rather than detracting from the landscape. When Midsomer Norton was in its prime it not only buzzed with passengers but also with staff. Station master, ticket clerk, goods staff, signalmen and other workers. It was full of life, not some dead stretch of concrete with, if you were lucky, a bus shelter 'gracing' the platform.

21st century railways will not make the same mistake. They will be far busier than they've ever been before and will more than cover the costs of running them. Many, many more people wil be employed by the railways and towns and villages will once more have stations they can be proud of, true centres of the community.

Railways are not roads, not decaying stretches of concrete, but the vital links that will keep us going after the end of cheap oil. Don't sell them short!
Posted by Picasa


Anonymous said...

HAve you seen the news vote the the LBs!

Anonymous said...

(Liberal Democrats that is)

Knoxy said...

It is of great importance that we don't let the state run this line. some funding maybe, but this assett needs to be cared for in the way of maximising benifet to the community. the mistake of the 60's was the costing cutting attempt to find a profitable network from within the 20,000 route miles nationalised in 1947/48. they didn't just reduce costs, they destroyed the business! give the railways back everything the owned back in 47, ports, airstrips, boats, buses, hotels etc, and they might just turn a profit? well of course they would....
we mustn't let the state run this line, they'd have pikey fencing all across Somerset & Dorset!

Peter said...

I have felt for years that the greatest damage done to smaller communities was wrought when the stations closed and center of interest was lost for the surrounding area. Just like driving a car cuts us of from everyone including other drivers and we can ignore them or be rude to them or be aggresive toward them and treat them like an intrusion into our own little world. Public transport usually provided an opportunity to be civil to fellow travelers. (No archaic political reference intended.)