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!

Monday, January 03, 2011

progress on compromise

Everyone who loves the S&D needs to work together, that is clear. There are some seriously artificial 'differences' between us, they are not real differences but simply differences in perception - in fact these differences wil fade as more and more people get the bigger picture. Remember that we were all once doubters (or ignorant) of Peak Oil. Nobody now seriously disputes that oil is a finite resource, that it will eventually vanish and that we will need to seriously change the way we source and use energy - and that in the process the old era of roads, cars, pollution and inefficiency will vanish. In reality many of the differences are no nore trivial than some people wanting 'power' within the S&D community. The New S&D has always sidestepped this rather anachronistic trait, anyone who wants to can get involved at any level. ALL ideas and energy are welcomed.

The previous post has brought forward a few good comments, which I've elevated to the main blog.


Is the relevant thread.

I believe the principle thorn in the side of the "preservationists" is the peak oil "angle". It would be a terrible shame if, despite the general alignment of aims there was a falling out over an underlying philosophy that has brought disparate groups to the same conclusion.

For my part I'm on nobody's side; I'm the grandson of the last driver of the "Pines Express" over S&D metals and just really want to see why it was so special to my Grandad.

I'm worried that the "no compromise" attitude may alienate rather than encourage the other groups to join the effort.
And my reply

But the preservationists are deluding themselves if they regard Peak Oil as an 'angle'. Oil is a finite resource and is getting scarcer by the day. As time passes the roads will empty as fewer and fewer of us can afford to drive. With the reduced tax take the roads themselves will fall into disrepair and all freight and passenger traffic will switch to rail. There's no contention in this, but a lot of people just don't want it to happen so they project this wish (and agenda) onto their own view of the future, and imagine it to have equal validity. It is so important to be realistic and keep one's own personal desires and foibles out of this. To not do so is to compromise.

At the end of the day it doesn't matter. The New S&D exists to bring the groups together, to act as an umbrella for the whole line, to lobby, to buy up and protect forever portions of the route. If others are happy to work locally (as are most of the Midford team) that is absolutely fine.I can not see why this should be any problem for anyone who loves the S&D. It takes nothing away from them - I myself am a dedicated life member at Midsomer Norton - but ensures that when the problems start to hit we are prepared.

Being prepared is the key to everything. Forget agendas, let's just get on with it. Nothing else matters.
and a very good contribution which says things better than I ever could

Well it seems obvious you can't build it all at once. We are not Brunel and we dont have his power or money.

Look at the way the M25 was built - easy bits first and then gradually filling in the gaps. The New Zealand railways of South Island had similar approach, as they had to cross several wide rivers.

We obviously need to gain the rights to build a railway over the entire route, and that should be going on in parallel to the actual construction and restoration in various places. Too many places and nothing gets finished and everyone gets disheartened.

May I also suggest an annual, 'walk the line', with a sponsored walk along as much of the original route as is possible. Once we could walk the whole route that would demonstrate to the press and locals that the project was possible.

Also desperately need a 'champion' with importance at a National level, who will act as a figurehead to bring in funds and even gain government support.

Once the tunnels in Bath are open that should help stimulate support. I also believe we should aim to restore all the mileposts as soon as possible and then add in the 'quarter posts' in sections that have been restored. Cosmetics in the early stage are important, even though the engineers amongst us might disagree. That is why the Midford restoration is so important. Big picture is essential, but doing lots of the easy things early on keeps everyone enthusiatic, and more likely to donate time and money.

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