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!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

a very sad story

When the original S&D closed 'replacement' bus services were implemented as a sop to those who rightly lamented the end of modern transport along the route. These services didn't last long as they obviously couldn't begin to offer the speed and comfort that the trains had - even in pre-modernisation days.

Wellow, which once had a superb rail service (along with Shoscombe and Single Hill to the south) was thrown back into the transport dark ages with villagers having to either move back to civilization (ie to somewhere with a train service!) or, horror of horrors, having to buy a car to keep themselves mobile. Because of the lie of the land and roads the replacement bus services couldn't begin to compensate for what the villagers had lost. This is what passed for progress in the horrible sixties.

When the replacement bus services inevitably stopped the villagers came up with an idea - to buy their own bus and keep some semblance of belonging to a wider world. This was four years ago. Today that bus (or more correctly minibus) hit the road.

This was featured on the local TV news. It was one of the most achingly poignant pieces of reporting I'd seen for years.

Poor Wellow, once a stop on the world famous S&D, with regular local trains connecting with expresses to the south coast, Midlands and north, site of numerous heavy freight workings, was reduced to relying on a tiny, uneconomic toy bus to keep their foothold in the 21st century.

But of course it won't be that many years before Wellow gets its trains back. With regular PPMs and electric units once again connecting at Bath, the villagers of Wellow (and Shoscombe and Single Hill) will once again be able to get where they want to quickly, cheaply and cleanly. This brief few decades where they were abandoned by the rest of the world will soon be forgotten. Roll on the New S&D! Perhaps we'll even nab that minibus for our museum of transport!
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