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, May 09, 2010

tourist potential

(Midford 2.2.2010 © Mick Knox)

Although we're sometimes mistaken for a potential heritage railway (we're not of course!) we do appreciate that our route does pass through some of the finest scenery in England, and as a commercial operation we would be stupid to ignore that potential. The Bath Extension from Evercreech to Bath was possibly the most scenic stretch of railway in England, and the rest of the route is also pretty attractive!

In the same way that we will be welcoming to steam trains, because that will provide additional cash flow, profit and media attention, we will certainly exploit the beauty of the route, encouraging people to visit the line for the journey alone for example.

The top view is of Midford, admittedly on a damp winter's day, but it does give an idea of the rural attractiveness of the route. Any look through an album of photos of the line will also show just how attractive it was. The architecture and infrastructure on the route actually fitted in with this and in places even enhanced the natural beauty.

We do feel a huge amount of responsibility to restore the route as closely as possible to the original. Railways have always had an immense advantage over roads in fitting into both the urban and rural environment and the S&D was possibly the finest example of them all.
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