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, March 25, 2011

the last closure?

31.8.1988 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing

This is the other Tunbridge Wells station, on a route that used to link this part of Kent with many places in Sussex. It closed in 1985, possibly the last major rail closure in the UK. Most of the line has been reopened by the Spa Valley Railway, but the link to the network, at least at this end, still eludes them.

It was strange to see a large station decaying as recently as the 1980s. It was more of a scene from the 1960s.

The Spa Valley serves an excellent role as a heritage railway, and will probably do so for a decade or two to come. But really this route, and those others that linked in (such as the Eridge to Three Bridges route, the Uckfield-Lewes and the Cuckoo line to Hailsham and Polegate) will all need to be restored over the coming years. This was an extremely short-sighted closure, based merely on the cost of remodelling the junction at Tunbridge Wells Central when the main line to Hastings was electrified. It had little to do with maintaining a service to a rural part of England, and to my mind really was the last time that such dodgy reasoning was used to justify cutting into our essential rail infrastructure. There again who knew about Peak Oil back in 1985? Not me!

1 comment:

Knoxy said...

When lines are electrified, it is supposed to increase passenger numbers. Closed for the cost of a remodelled junction! Would have been cheaper to remodel than the continue cost of fighting for oil?

What muppets?

Did Tunbridge Wells get angry?

Bet they are now? £6.50 a gallon!