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, September 04, 2010

opening doors

Blood, Iron, and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World

The following is the concluding paragraph in Christian Woolmar's excellent book, 'Blood, Iron and Gold. How the Railways Transformed the World'. Whilst it's a little cautious and too backwards looking, and irrationally foresees a future role for buses, in most respects I think it says everything we've been trying to say!

Railways may have lost out to the car and the lorry, and in America and other big countries, to the aeroplane. But the fact that they survived and now thrive shows their resilience and flexibility. Trains may be of the past, but they are still the future. They will improve, not just on high speed lines, but elsewhere too as technology makes them more efficient, comfortable and faster. And there is the rather delicious prospect that they might conceivably outlive the car. It may be a fanciful idea, but then not even Stephenson realized quite what an impact his Liverpool and Manchester Railway would have. While in most places today, rail's modal share of travel is tiny compared with road transport, that situation could easily change. All this personalized mobility has not necessarily delivered any overall benefit to society. Are the Chinese better off now with their traffic jams and ring roads than they were twenty years ago when bicycles and buses were the dominant form of urban transport, and trains took them between the cities? Would it have been better if transport technology had atrophied at the turn of the century and the car had never come to dominate the world? With every town or village within a few miles of a station or tram stop, and buses for shorter journeys, a far more rational system of transport and land use would have been developed. Imagine a world without car parks, motorways or service stations. Sure, there might have been eight- or ten-track railways connecting major cities with huge termini and massive bus stations at each end, but it is an alternative vision that has many attractions. Think of all those delightful towns and cities not blighted by the permanent gridlock that affects them today. And all those horrible housing estates, accessible only by car, that would never have been built. We all know that the oil will run out at some point and as it starts to become too expensive and governments recognize it should be rationed carefully, trains may regain their place at the centre of the trasport system. Now there's a prospect to warm the heart.
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