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, December 11, 2010

working together - the first project?

It's been suggested through the S&D Facebook group that all supporters of the S&D should work towards rebuilding the bridge at Midsomer Norton which would leave the way clear to the Midsomer Norton group running trains into Radstock and, via a link with the Frome line, onto the network. This would also connect with our route from Bath heading south in the longer term.

This is a no-brainer and one of the best things to come out of such a scheme would be that at least two of the S&D groups would then be able to work closely together.

I'd welcome comments from you all as to whether you think this is a good use of New S&D resources. Posted by Picasa


will said...

Great idea.

All of what i write below bears in mind the huge obstacle of building a 6/10 mile line:

I its my opinion that the best direction for the new S&D to go, in terms of drumming up support, would be to somehow and by any means necessary lay a line between 2 significant towns. (NortonRadstock-Frome, or NR-Bath)

This would:
Provide S&D with income from line rental and special services, station businesses etc.

Allow us to demonstrate we can be a competent infrastructure and train operator, which will allow us to request a transport subsidy for a full time service. (or just the former, so a TOC can run trains instead)

Generate public support - needed to secure money for other parts of the line. Will be a bit of a blow to naysayers - they will have to buy a ticket and travel somewhere else to lament the death of S&D

Anonymous said...

I fully support this proposal. Indeed I would go even further and encourage everyone to do everything they can – financially, politically and practically - to support the S&DRHT in expanding southwards through Chilcompton and over the Mendips to Shepton Mallet.

Rebuilding the entire S&D in any of our lifetimes will be an enormous project given the enormous urban obstacles in places such as Wincanton, Blandford and Broadstone (to name just a few). Whilst we should never say never to a fully reinstated S&D, a Radstock to Shepton Mallet railway, possibly linking up with the East Somerset Railway at Mendip Vale, would seem altogether more achievable in the medium term. However , even this will be an enormous undertaking.

Knoxy said...

Silver Street missing bridge has to be seen as a big problem, not least as the road has been altered since demolition. Not insurmountable mind, but it will require the input of the bureaucrats and therefore needs be recognised it will take time. I believe it would be a good move to start north of the bridge, making a place for the appeal sign, and head towards Five Arches . Midsomer also needs to head south, double track to the Tunnel infill and then beyond into Rock Cutting. Chilcompton station area needs taking over as the first proper destination for Midsomer, but in the meantime something temporary could be set up by Redan Bridge No51. Masbury Station needs to head north towards the summit to the buried remains of Oakhill Road Bridge No69 and south to the missing bridge. Midford needs to head south towards Wellow and whatever the first missing bridge happens to be. I haven’t walked that stretch yet.

Once it is shown that bigger things can and will be done the more the funding shall follow. It won’t be a wasted effort as eventually the line will be needed again. it is best that this is done by the people rather than directed by the state otherwise we will have a railway covered in palisade fencing and looking a stain on the countryside instead of blending in with it.

I’m sure everyone has noticed the spike in the fuel price lately? This isn’t going to go away, as we’re all hooked into the black gold and the price won’t drop until we can cure ourselves of the habit.

If only we had an alternative?

Oh, I haven’t forgotten about Spetisbury. They can go north and south.

And i would like some help with a line survey, logging who owns what etc. I’ll have an e-mail set up for that soon.


Sunshiner said...

From the New S&D perspective it's very important that as stretches of the line are reinstated that they fulfill two main objectives - be economically viable from day one and serve a genuine passenger and/or freight need. Clearly the most important stretches of line are the Bournemouth to Blandford and Midsomer Norton (or Shepton) to Bath, as well as a connection for Glastonbury and Wells. These are the stretches we expect to see restored within twenty years, but i suspect the oil problem will probably be upon us a lot quicker than most of us expect, and the S&D as a through route will quickly be seen to be essential, so these first sections need to be seen as stepping stones to a full revival.

I don't quite see the traffic flows that a Radstock to Shepton and back up to Witham Friary will create, except from a purely heritage perspective, with specials off the network doing a bit of the S&D, but these will serve little purpose for the locals along the line. In the longer term I am pretty sure these particular connections WILL be restored to increase flexibility, as will junctions with Western routes at Bruton, Bath (and Shepton of course) and a more logical junction with the Southern at Templecombe allowing easier interchange. the Salisbury-Exeter route will become a VERY important line in the future, this process is already happening of course.

Freddie said...

Rebuilding Silver Street bridge will be expensive but the real obstacle is political - persuading BANES that lowering the road to allow is a good thing, will require them to decide at the top to do it. Otherwise the highways department will continue to think that roads come first

yamfaz said...

I like the idea of build north of the bridge first. It is all about credibility. In fact it would make more sense in building from the rail head at Radstock up the hill to Silver Street. Yes we have a level crossing to sort out and the proposed housing development on the old sidings (is this still going ahead). But that would show commitment and drive, plus it would reduce building cost as all material and machinery would come in by rail. In fact before the tunnel is dealt with it would be best to be rail connected as the Bluebell have found out with the rubbish tip they are moving. What is the latest with the Radstock group.

Above all by building it this way it will show to the local council that we have backing and credibility to undertake the bridge rebuild. Heck, getting through Radstock via a level crossing will do that!

Great idea, lets start planning. Hope to be down v soon.

David B said...

Reinstating the bridge would be a good thing, but very expensive. The last quote I heard was £1million. The road would need to be lowered and embankments restored on the opposite side of the road from the station.

I think most local residents would support the move as it would prevent HGVs from using that route into Midsomer... but local businesses might not be so understanding.

The extension of the tracks over a bridge would immediately allow MSN station to add a set of points to allow run-arounds; useful for the operation of train services. The tracks need not be extended towards Radstock and Five Arches immediately, and the SDRHT could continue their focus towards Chilcompton.

jellytots said...

Getting to radstock is essential, as there is then a realistic chance of opening up a link to Frome, and mainline connection. I know that this is not real S&D country, but we need to show that we are able to provide a viable transport route, as this is what Joe Public understands.When peak oil kicks in - to my mind sooner rather than later - at least we will look like a credible organisation.My opinion, for what it's worth, is that in a very few years, even flat earthers will be begging for railway lines as a means of connection with the rest of the world. Who would have thought it!

Knoxy said...

Filled my car up today: £1.22 per litre, which in old British is £5.59 per gallon! Doesn’t that make you sweat? Thankfully i don’t drive to work, as a safeguard rail employee i can use the train cheaply, but when my job on the North London Line finishes next month I’m back to driving to Slough! I shall feel the pain of almost 100 miles a day!

We all need alternatives to road based transport, especially all those communities deprived by the Beeching cuts, inspired by the oil brigade back in the 60’s. Beeching never got British Railways to pay, as they sold off the bits that did and therefore the state was left with a network that didn’t. The politicians once again failed us, as they do today. We don’t need high speed lines, we need the local lines back.

The New S&D will just be the start. Well it certainly should if we want this country to get back to working again........


Anonymous said...

I also think the reinstatement of the problematical Silver St with a new bridge is a very important step......In fact, I'd go so far as to say, it is the step that will convince everyone that the S&D is not just a disparate collection of 'railway enthusiasts' each involved with their own little 'patch', but that this railway is a deadly serious concern with much bigger aims.
From the volunteers/supporters point of view it would also be a HUGE fillip and encouragement to overcome this very big undertaking. A psychological barrier as well as a physical one, will have been overcome....after the new Silver St bridge - the rest will be a challenge, and not an impossible dream! The [major]symbolism of replacing this bridge cannot be overstressed in it's implications. I would urge that this desirable outcome be pursued with all vigour.

lonesomehobo said...

For those who think getting the line across Silver Street won't help - imagine all of the people who would then have a heritage steam engine chuffing along at the bottom of their garden on summer weekends.

As an added bonus, Silver Street is a known quantity - the initial planning has already been done, so it's in no way speculative.

Getting down into Radstock does mean there's a chance of Network Rail funding the connection onto Frome (it was mentioned in their last report about opening old lines) and from there to the mainline, which would be awesome.

Above all, Silver Street is something that pretty much all of the S&D groups, regardless of their ultimate aim, can agree on. £1m sounds like a lot of money, but projects like the Vulcan manage to pull in that sort of money every few months.

Sunshiner said...

And not just steam trains of course, but real modern trains giving the near 30,000 inhabitants of Radstock and Midsomer Norton a sustainable link to the outside world, which surely will be what really swings the deal. And with the line extending southwards as well Shepton, another large town laughingly off the network, will again be connected to the rest of the world by a form of transport that has a future.

We'll be launching the Silver Street Bridge Appeal in 2011!

Freddie said...

I read in the paper last week that the Chinese now have a 300mph train and have set themselves a target of 20 years of having a high speed line from China to Europe. London to Beijing in 48 hours!

You can't think too big when it comes to the future of railways!

Anonymous said...

Surely it would make sense if the working parties at Midsomer and Midford tried to join up.This would create a good length of track between two towns for heritage trains etc.This means the Midford group building North not South,and give both groups a realistic goal.
My other comment concerns the Radstock link.This is probably the only viable link to the rest of the network.We would all like to see trains coming in and out of Green Park Station but we have to be realistic.

Sunshiner said...

I think realism in the post oil age will revolve around getting as much of the rail network back in place as quickly as possible. Very few people in Norton Radstock want to head towards Frome, they want to go to Bath which makes sense. The Frome line has a short to medium term role as a link to the network, but I suspect neither the SDRHT or New S&D would have any interest in restoring the line from Radstock to Frome, there is already a group (the North Somerset Railway) that are proposing this.

The New S&D will always have as its primary aim the rebuilding of the whole line, particularly into Bath and Bournemouth. Remember that the New S&D is not a heritage group and whilst we see the value of restoring the infrastructure to 1950s style with staffed stations etc, this is primarily because a busy, populated railway is more attractive to everybody and will bring in more income (with associated higher costs). We also of course see the value of steam specials over the route and will do everything we can to encourage this.

I personally find your last sentence very 1970s, and not at all appropraite to the thriving rail network of the future. Getting our lines back into the towns and cities is essential and I can't see outfits like the New S&D ever compromising on this.

The New S&D is a project based organisation, and the Silver Street bridge replacement will only ever be a tiny facet of what we do, as will the Midford and Spetisbury rebuilds. We certainly won't ever water down our plans, as that would make the whole project unviable.