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, June 18, 2011

something a little different

This is about as far removed from the S&D as possible. But I love this shot. It shows the railway that used to link Farnborough station in Hampshire with the RAE about a mile away. Much of the route ran through the streets. The line closed in 1967 or 1968. I remember reading an article on this route in an ancient Railway Magazine but there were no pictures. This is the first picture I've ever seen of the line and it's an absolute gem!

I'm very familar with street running from my many visits to Switzerland, and there are still many miles of street running in Switzerland with long and regular passenger trains.

Street running is likely to make a big comeback in the UK as rail expands, We've already seen the first small stretch at Porthmadog on the Welsh Highland Railway, and it has been suggested as a cheaper way of reconnecting Wadebridge with Padstow. Tramways are likely to spring up in all medium sized towns and cities, many which will have an element of freight transport as well. It's also likely to be used to connect factories and other industrial locations to the network without a passenger element - it is far cheaper than using a dedicated route. As the roads empty it will become a commonplace sight. It may even be used on parts of the S&D, who knows?


Brian said...

Reminds me of when visiting parents in North America during 1980's randomly encountered quite small factory places even rural located had what seemed to my Brit conditioning surprising casual on-street sidings into them. So exciting to find some actually in use. Blagged a cab-ride into Corning Glassworks, NY State, nothing fenced off. Btw they had tours using Bristol double decker bus, funny I had whole top deck to myself wonder why? Parents horrified I may pick up ticks or legs blasted by poison ivy due to ignorance local wildlife seething over rails in verges. Now we have ticks here. But not yet so many sidings like those. Bring it on, we won't get squashed.

Keith Browning said...

Plenty more info about Farnborough railway system if you google. Built as a temporary line in WW1 and laster another 50 years.

BertieBeatlefan said...

Mmmm! Interesting point. The H&S Gestapo would be against it even though it is bleedin' obvious where a train is going, having a fixed trajectory. Trains crawling along need fencing apparantly yet mixing road traffic and pedestrians is nothing but a free-for-all. When was the last time you heard of a train leaping off the rails to squash someone? The H&S lot need to go to the countries you mention! (not that this is likely to change their minds...)

Sunshiner said...

On street is such an easy way to get rails to the places that need them. It's a scandal that Weymouth's tramway is currently unused despite being such an obvious transport and tourist link.

In Switzerland on street trains are everywhere. On the southern end of the Bernina line ten coach passenger trains run down the middle of the main street every hour or so.

But at least the UK does have some regularly used on street track now in the tramway systems that are (slowly) springing up and of course at Porthmadog, but the H&S rules are absolutely stupid.

Mind you the BBC has just hired 'chair companions' to show their staff how to use chairs properly - and I'm not making this up!

Sunshiner said...

Will be posting lots more on RAE later thanks to Brian Clarke's research!

mhowell said...

There's another pic of the RAE street running train in one of the Old Farnborough photo books, showing what looks very like (but isn't) my grandad John Howell and me as a three or four year old holding his hand watching it run by us very closely indeed! The old RAE Farnborough steam train is still running on the Isle of Wight... ! Lovely memories of my grandad John Howell... who was a lovely man and the caretaker at Hippodrome House in Aldershot for many years.