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, December 15, 2010

paradigm shift

It's amazing how quickly attitudes are changing. Just a few short years ago the idea that the Beeching cuts would - ever!- be reversed was unusual. Now almost everybody accepts it. Just a few years ago new ROADS were being proposed! Even today some cities (such as Bristol to their everlasting shame) seriously think that buses can solve city transport problems, rather than the obvious trams and cycleways. So there's still work to do.

But it is good that what we are doing is now seen as mainstream, although the full restoration of the S&D is still considered problematical in some circles. Their moment of insight will come - probably on the day that petrol reaches £3 per litre ...

I am sure that the S&D will see enormous strides in 2011 and beyond. Early next year we'll be launching the Silver Street Bridge Fund, which will seek to raise the £1 million to rebuild the bridge that will link Midsomer Norton to the line down to Radstock and beyond to the network at Frome. Planning permission to rebuild Midford station will be sought and hopefully we'll start work down at Spetisbury. This is a really exciting time to be involved with the S&D! Yet just ten short years ago the whole line was in deep sleep ...
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Anonymous said...

I can't think of a better way of establishing the S&D within the public's mindset as a viable transport alternative. Go for it!

Gavin(ChurnetValley) said...

when i was at midsomer Norton earlier this year they told me it would be a six million pound re build of the bridge so how come its now only 1 what is the true figure.

Sunshiner said...

I wasn't aware that MN had done a full costing. Who did you get the info from? I can't recall seeing this figure in any of their literature.

There have been a few offers of scrap bridges and cheap or free (with publicity tie-in) placing of the bridge. There is also the question of whether volunteer labour, professional labour or a mix would be used. There are so many variables that I'm very impressed that the finance people down at MN have such a precise figure - but it does seem very high to me.

No matter, the appeal will be for one million, which I suspect would be adequate if we get the right support from local businesses, volunteer labour etc. It will at least get the ball rolling.

I suspect the actual cost will be somewhere between the two parameters. The simple fact is that the bridge will need to be replaced if this section of the S&D is to have any sort of future, so the cost has to be irrelevant - the important thing is to get it back regardless of cost.

There will need to be another bridge replacement closer to Radstock, where the main MN to Radstock road passes under the line, but at least here the height is not a problem!

Freddie said...

Also depends on whether the railway has to pay to have the road reprofiled or if you can persuade BANES to pay for it. £6 million is presumably the worst case scenario.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of having the bridge put back in but I think the money should be used to secure the line going to Frome. The architecture and lines are all still there and little work is required. It is also connected to the main line. This helps with supplies, visiting attractions etc. The day they demolish the building and lines at Radstock's centre the Somerset and Dorset's plans are massively damaged forever! If the MSN station had something to connect to so close it can become a grand line and draw lots of people and revenue into the area allowing more ambitious plans to Shepton. I think people are missing a massive trick allowing that wasteland to Frome to age unused!