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, April 14, 2010

the wrong model!

The 70’s pro road attitude ……….

1) railways are dead

2) railways are now trailways, they died and are not coming back

3) you're not putting a smelly old railway that’s costs the taxpayer 25 billion and only used by 5% of the population back through our children's landscaped nature trail (but we don’t mind if you build a 300 million relief road just over the other side of that hill if it means getting those blasted 44 ton trucks out of our village thanks!!)

There are still a few people who have this attitude, they are a dying breed, but to those who don't care one way or the other their views are still considered, a bit like those divs that (normally because they are paid to lie) claim that although global warming's happening it's not due to our activity in any way. There is of course a concensus amongst 95% of scientists that global warming is mainly due to our activities! (I hope this doesn't sound like enviro-babble to some of the beardies, it's not, it's just simple science!)

We do need to keep pushing our view (the correct one)

The 21st century pro-rail attitude ..........

1) roads are dying

2) railways are now trailways and cycleways, but this is simply a way of preserving the integrity of the trackbeds that are soon coming back

3) we will soon be desperate to have our railway put back, we can't afford to run our cars any more, the roads are falling to pieces, how are we going to get to work/shops/holidays unless you bring back our trains?
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Anonymous said...

This is something that the likes of christopher125, maunsell man and backwards of blandford cant understand. they think that the new S&D is an isolated fringe group wanting to play trains on a recreated slow victorian system, when in fact there will soon be like minded pressure groups springing up all over the country demanding that every town and large village be reconnected to the national network. Theres a lot of nimbys to crush, a lot of red tape to do away with and a lot of work to do. lets face it, 66% of the 1939 railway land has been deliberately closed, forcing YOU to buy and run a car, giving YOU no choice in how you travel. Those idiots think that a bit of infill, a few trees, a couple of wimpey homes or a tin clad industrial unit is going to stop the reinstatement of a railway. Well, its not - its going to take a while to smash the 70's consumerist dinosaur profiteering mindset, but it will happen. So people, don't get too comfy walking the dog, riding your bike or horse on a dirty old nostalgic trackbed - its only that way because marples mcmillan and wilson did a very nice deal and wiped out your alternative, more evolved form of transport! oh, and for goodness sake dont buy a house on or near a disused railway if you dont like a swooshing noise between the calm every half hour! you will be compulsary purchased for the going rate of your property. Need I make myself any clearer?

Ben said...

The attitude that the railways are dying has persisted since the 60's, even though it was untrue by the end of the 80's.
Privatisation was a big set back (mostly due to it being such a botched job), something that is unlikely to improve in the future.
Therefore it is quite amusing that the railways are once more growing, despite pprivatisation.
However I do see railways as part of an integrated system, a system in which the roads will play a (much smaller) part.

Chris Warren said...


I completely agree with the opinion that the railways were deliberately destroyed under the guise of the Beeching report. Right to the end many of the lines that were closed were an integral, intrinsic part of people's everyday lives. If you had a local station everyone knew when the next local service was coming through, as they had done for generations. This was the problem the roads lobby had. How do you break this habit? How do you convince Mr and Mrs Smith of Mangotsfield to fork out £950 on a brand new Morris 1300 back in 1966 when Mr Smith was earning £45 per week? He would have been using the Midland line to commute into Bath costing him two shillings a day. The simple answer was that the only way to achieve this was to completely take this option away and force Mr Smith to BUY a car.

That's what was planned and carried out. The lobbying worked, the senior Civil Servants implemented the plan and compliant politicians of both parties complied.

What a great legacy they have left us.

Anonymous said...

.......and the apprentices of those same politicians have been indoctrinated on the same mindset and are now passing it on most successfully to the next generation; quietly sell off all the siding and passing loop space to stop regrowth, stitch network rail and the tocs into such a costly mess of red tape, pay consultants millions to tell you any reopening isnt financially viable and cleverly set up an environmental quango called sustrans to reuse the surviving fragments of trackbeds as green lungs where you can escape the daily grind after your extended commute to and from work - safe in the knowledge that the consumerist public would be up in arms if you tried to turn their cycleways back into railways that are only used by 5% of the population and are costing the taxpayer 25 billion quid a year and rising. Of course little does mr 2.4 know that only 30% of that subsidy actually goes on running the railway - the rest buoys up the toc bus companies and their shareholders, the consultants and their friends in whitehall. all very very clever stuff aimed at maximum short term gain in their lifetimes, thankyou very much, and blow the public service to the nation!

Sunshiner said...

This is all interesting stuff. Do you have references and sources for this (hard info and figures)? Main reason is that the more info I can get for 'The Case for the S&D' book the better. And if we can pin the politicians, local and national, down as part of a stupid continuing pro-road plot all the better. It'll give us loads of energy and a lot of support, especially as the price of fuel rises relentlessly and people, who have relied on cars for years, suddenly find they can't use them as much as they used to - and the alternatives have been turned into playgrounds for the simple-minded.

Anonymous said...

Facts and figures can be found in two sources - the Great Railway Conspiracy by David Henshaw and Wheels within wheels by Mick Hamer. There's a couple of pages just on the S&D.

Sunshiner said...

Thanks. Will read and absorb!

Knoxy said...

The Great Railway Conspiracy by David Henshaw is just a fantastic book and one of the reasons I now work on the railway! I read this book while trucking around the UK and became convinced the railway would once again return and that I wanted to be part of it.

I must do a search for wheels within wheels now?

Anonymous said...


everyone should read at least the extract link above, its shows just what these road lobby pigs have done. Nick

Anonymous said...

The fact that the politicians STILL wont reopen the Portishead line is a cause for concern: the queues into/out of Portishead are awful at 8-9am and 4-6pm; Waitrose allowed sufficient space for a station to be built next to its car park (and in the MIDDLE of town); a station there, J19 of M5 (park & ride), Pill and Ashton Gate, gives a perfect half hour journey P'head to Bristol TM. Come on politicians - WAKE UP before your public votes you out and installs people who have vision for the future. JW

Knoxy said...

somebody should stand for local election on a single issue 'return the Portishead Rail-Link'?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the intransigent attitude shown over the full reinstatement of the Portishead line is mindbogglingly neolithic.........I spent much time, engery not to mention, literally, blood, sweat and a few tears for the FULL re opening of public as well as freight useage of that line.
Working alone with a chain saw and making as much personal difference to clearing scrub and self seeding trees which were fouling the '4ft' was a personal crusade - not one which the ever so politically correct 'elf'n safety' mob would have been pleased with! But then I didn't [and still don't] care a toss for 'elf 'n safety'
There is FAR too much interference in peoples lives as it is by the 'nanny' state [I prefer the term 'facist'] Not withstanding that, can ANYONE explain to me WHY politicos are dragging their feet over this issue? You would think THEY, of all people, would be obsessively trying to open as many 'eco friendly' alternatives as possible! After all, it's popular voting they are concerned with, and what could be MORE popular than using an already SENSIBLE rail link from one of the fastest developing towns near bristol INTO the city itself?

An integrated rail/bus service at Bristol dockside would be a HUGELY beneficial step FORWARD to all who have the current nightmarish commuter journy by road from/to Portishead at this time.
Were I still living in Bristol [or for that matter in Portishead] I could think of no better way to go to work/shop/night out than knowing there was a frequent rail service that would GET me THERE and BACK in comfort without the stress and frustration of congested grid locked roads.

Chris Warren said...

Yep, Politicians. They're all C**nts.

Chris Warren said...

I have often thought about this problem with the Portishead Line. Someone, somewhere is saying No. Who is it?? Any ideas??

Knoxy said...

SE, keep your chainsaw primed and ready, it will be needed. I've put mine to use at Midsomer Norton, helping the Monday gang get the embankments back to the 1950's look. I.e. clear and neat.

Change is on its way, although we might have to lead it?

Knoxy said...

It’s my personal view that the Government (fuel taxes), and the oil companies (fuel obviously), are the ones who benefit from the Portishead line remaining closed....

The reinstated line will cost Government in two ways. They factor in the loss of fuel duty, along with the rebuild and running costs!

When local businesses (Bristol & Portishead) wake up to the loss of revenue by not having a line, then you will get some action? A bit like the re-run of the 1840's when those who were a bit slow and had denied the building of a railway to their town, were then desperate to get a line built.