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!

Friday, October 29, 2010

the S&D community

There are rumours - probably apocryphal - the an 'important member' of the S&D community recently refused to give an interview with a video company about the S&D because 'everything that could be said about the S&D has been'.

This highlights two big points. The first is that the potential interviewee clearly considers that the S&D exists purely in the past. This is the big fracture between the nostalgists who knew the old S&D and the far bigger demographic that see the S&D as primarily a present and future thing. There is of course a third group, people like me who see the S&D as a phenomena of the past, present and future.

The other point is the ease that somebody like me, who normally detests the PC, modernist and rather lazy use of '(insert anything) community' finds it so easy to use in this case. Because there really is an S&D community, and it's a growing, very cool and dynamic thing. It is very much an idea of the future more than anything. And I suspect that everyone that reads this blog is very clearly a member of it.

There are some VERY silly differences between people currently restoring the S&D. As the New S&D we have kept very firmly apart from this, and always intend to do so. We are a unifying rather than dividing force. We quite simply want to see the whole S&D restored, both as a linear work of art and as a modern, forward-looking, transport system. We can clearly see the benefits of restoring the bulk of the 1950s/60s S&D infrastructure - it will encourage steam specials on the route, will give the whole line a human scale, will increase the potential employment prospects of the line, will allow us to sieze a myriad of profitable opportunities and make people like us! But we also see the absolute necessity of being an economically viable, super efficient common carrier for freight and passengers in the 21st century. As the road network fails we need to be in place, as simple as that. If for the next couple of decades we can ride on the back of the heritage movement as we restore sections of the route then that will help all of us.

You can see where this is going. The New S&D has something for the WHOLE S&D community. Not only can those who love steam and loved the line as it was see that what we will do will appeal to them but also the people who live along the line - who really just want their trains back - can see that we also want to give them that, a super efficient, cheap, climate-friendly and sustainable way to keep moving as the oil age collapses.

The S&D community is HUGE, certainly numbering in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. It embraces the original S&D community - the workers who knew the original line. It encompasses a good proportion of railway enthusiasts who loved this line, whether they knew it or not when it was running (and where of course I originally came from!). It includes all those people working towards making the UK a sustainable economy. It also includes all of those people in the railway industry who are developing our primary transport system in the 21st century. But the biggest tranche of members come from those hundreds of thousands of people that live along the route and will be the main users of the trains when they return.
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Anonymous said...

I was listening to an article on the 'big bullshit company's' radio 4 today, in which the TOC's [Train operating companies] spokesman was berating the lack of rolling stock, to ease the increasing numbers of passengers who are crammed into trains currently.....
Always passing the buck! always moaning on WHO's responsibility the effective use of railways is: Remember when Swindon produced ALL of it's own products for the entire GW system?
Remember the days when you could sit on COMFFORTABLE seats in a compartment where you had some sense of privacy and could open the windows and not be stuffed en masse into 'airline' type seats in a hermetically sealed tin can?
IF these idiots had a modicum of sense, Swindon would STILL be a hub of railway industry, along with Crewe and many other fine railway equipment manufacturers. But no! Instead, the STUPID and criminally insane politicians decide road is the future....and NOW we are ALL of us paying the price! And will continue to do so until sanity once more rules in Whitehall! [IF EVER]
I wish to G-d I had the powers of CPO [compulsory purchase order] THEN the S&D along with many other branch lines which were ILLEGALLY closed against the will of the PEOPLE, whom government is SUPPOSED to SERVE would be reinstated- No arguments from 'nimbys'- The common good would rule the roost and rails would replace many sub standard and potentially dangerous roads. There would be complete INTEGRATION for road and rail, where long distance truck movements would be forced to use rail or not at all, plus the use of private cars piggybacked on the rail and loaded/unloaded at their destinations - All done quickly, cheaply [to encourage use of] THIS would be the 'norm' - saving fuel, saving deaths injuries and accidents, saving air pollution, saving tempers, saving.............Need I continue?
People want reliability....More trains..more comfort and to be treated like PEOPLE not 'products' to be packed into tin cans...and NOT higher speeds [which is not a panacea in itself] More lines opened = More trains, more much needed employment, more comfort per passenger mile, less frenetic timetabling, more realistic diagramming of services. I would go one further: Instead of importing passenger rolling stock from abroad, open OUR own producing companies - re introduce a better Mk 1 carriaging stock and do away with this continental produced rubbish i.e. the present cattle cars for people!
The potential for this country to be completely self sufficient in it's railway infrastructure/manufacturing capability is HERE! let's push for that highly desirable end to be realised - and if politicians won't 'tow the line', get rid of them, and keep doing so UNTIL we have a government which WILL do the bidding of the PEOPLE who elected it!

Eddystone said...

Now there's a funny thing-the voice of the people has already been recently heard and the politicians in spite of their reluctance are having to tow the line. In the Labour party the people are about to speak again-and they will get their way. People all over the UK are waking up to the threat of agenda 21 which is the real issue here. Tell you one thing ,beware the high speed railway. We must continue the pressure at all levels and the kind of posts suplied in this instance by anonymous and the leadership of Mr Sainsbury is just starting to gell and latch onto the common dissatisfaction with the Wesminster governmental system. The railway reactivation lobby is alive and well,with dozens of campaigns active over the entire UK. Never give up.