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, July 02, 2011

common sense approaches portishead - at last!

The Avon Gorge - old form of transport on the right, the future on the left (in the trees!)

Thanks to Brian Clarke for this.


Meeting backs £43.3m Portishead to Bristol rail link

Transport leaders from councils around Bristol have met despite plans for a partnership board to be closed down.

The West of England Partnership is to be shut with some roles taken over by a Local Enterprise Partnership.

At a meeting in Weston-super-Mare the group decided to put forward a bid for £43.3m of government cash to reopen the Portishead to Bristol railway line.

Plans were also announced for a rail summit in the autumn as part of a drive to tackle rail issues across the West.

An Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) could give councils greater power over buses and railways and the power to set fares was also discussed.

Network Rail said it would also be looking at doubling the number of tracks between Parson Street, in Bedminster, Bristol, and Temple Meads railway station.

'Key priority'

Commenting on the proposed Portishead to Bristol railway line, a North Somerset Council spokesman said morning rush hour journey times were typically 45 minutes but claim it would take just 17 minutes by rail.

If funding and planning issues are solved the council believes a realistic opening date for the line would be by 2017.

Councillor John Calway, who chairs the partnership, said the councils would continue to meet and bid for projects such as new bus routes.

"Transport remains a key priority for both residents and businesses in the West of England," said Mr Calway, the leader of South Gloucestershire Council.

"In recognition of this, the hugely successful West of England Joint Transport Executive Committee will continue in its current form."

The partnership was formed by Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils in 2003 and could be closed by the autumn.


Knoxy said...

at least that's at start....

more to follow? i should think so..

Brian said...

Few good things came from former Avon local authority.One operationally effective down the years, often only visible to participants (eg myself when a "real nonlycra" cycling rep), is co-operation between several local authorities.

Don't take much notice of what its called, nods or shakes by central Govt, nor "headline" funding propaganda bullhorns. Just be aware "the former Avon area" local authorities show lasting desire to work together a bit on Transport. Its not BS - which I am often cynical about, so coming from me, thats discreet "pat on the back".

Fingers crossed, as its "tough cookies" time for many hopes.

I just spent a day tracking last outward flight of "Wiltshire Fat Alberts" by distressed reports from "Darkplaces" Real Men who wear Chain Mail & explore Dangerous Old Mines. Each posted with stuff like "fine formation, just passed over me, shed tears", then they put up "memorial pictures" from Forces service with Hercs. Thats another kind of Transport taking it "on the chin".

I hope Steve can add a link about related disgraceful scrap of Nimrods (emailed).

Sunshiner said...


This is Brian's link re Nimrods (see above comment)

Tom said...

And about b****y time!

Why is it that, while other cities have their metro/light rail systems, Bristol seems to be permanently stuck in the dark ages?

Is it simply that the councils of Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield etc are more forward thinking than the shower we have in Bristol?

Sunshiner said...

The council here is particularly backward and with the collusion of Labour MPS even killed (for now) our Supertram. Had this been built 5 years ago (rather than in 5 years' time) I could probably now travel everywhere by public transport rather than being stuck still using a stupid car. Hartcliffe was supposed to be the southern terminus of our tramway and we are STILL waiting for it!

The biggest problem is that opening the Portishead line - which must have the best case of any line in Britain for reopening - will open the floodgates for other parts of Bristol (and elesewhere) to demand they get 21st century transport.

No worries, Peak Oil will soon convince even the most backwards councillor/MP that thye need to move with the times and do the job they are paid for!

Tom said...

Thanks for the reply Steve. I have for many years been angry / frustrated at Bristol council's lack of foresight in this matter. With so many old railway lines in and around Bristol it just seemd like a no-brainer.

Did I read somewhere that they are going to introduce a Bus Rapid Transit system? Surely this won't be similar to Cambridge's misGuided Busway?

Sunshiner said...

The sure sign of a council really not knowing what it's doing is when they start suggesting 'improved' buses as a serious approach to public transport. Bristol aren't quite so degenerate as to propose a busway - there's no obvious route for a start - I think they were just planning to tinker with buslanes! It takes about 45 minutes to get from Hartcliffe to the Centre by bus - tram would be around 25 minutes. The car of course takes even longer - it's all of 5 miles!!

It's a complete no-brainer as you say. We could have suburban railways out to Portishead, Whitchurch, Fishponds etc and trams filling the gaps. Then when the oil runs out will we even notice? Bristol does have two Green Party councillors now - hopefully they can make a bit of a noise but even some Greens are still a bit vague on Peak Oil!

BertieBeatlefan said...

£43.3M? Where do they get these figures? Most of the infrastructure is there already; and they did build NEW across Oz for £1m /mile...

Sunshiner said...

They quote these mad figures for 2 reasons -
1) Because they think we are thick.

2) Because they try to put everybody off.

To be fair land values in Australia are a lot less than here in the UK, but a lot of the cost is bureaucracy. This needs to change ASAP.

Chris warren said...

Bristol's problem, transport officers still entrenched with the mindset that urban transport planning is all about cars. Throwbacks from the late 60's and 70's when they were taught that road based infrastructure was the only way. The whole region will be playing catch up for years.

On a brighter note, I am heavily involved in a campaign which is about to launch for the re opening of Saltford station on the GWR mainline. Spoke on the phone to a very influential person who can make things happen and to say we are gonna be pushing at an open door would be an understatement! I'll have a word with him about the S&D from Radstock to Bath.

Chris Warren

Sunshiner said...

Cars? In 2011? That's hilarious!!

Happy to put more details of the Saltford scheme on this blog once things start moving.

Brian said...

Oh thank goodness other folk have "done the dirty laundry" by which I mean tackling the negative sides of this topic. It was looking for a bit like I may have to chuck a few bricks; negative is so bad for me !

Yes there is every reason to be frustrated. I am sure various individuals on the "inside" are just as annoyed, yet they are held back by this "English Disease" which collectively prevents an ability "to organise a way out of a wet paper bag".

See what I mean, its best for me just to not get started on the downside. But I am well aware...

Thanks again fellow commentators !

Brian said...

Newsflash 5-7-11: "Plastic FM" radio this morning shouts at me, one & a doodah million (exact figure dont matter) people given up motoring recently, because high cost fuel for their cars. Hello local politicians, you hearing this? Get yer ruddy fingers out from where sun dont shine, time grows short. We need trams, now, last week ! A few bus lanes & swanky outline shells masking same old roadstinkers wont cover it.

Fixes on slightly askew manic grin,

Bye All !

Brian said...

Bombardier. Read, draw thine own conclusions:


Brian said...

Steve very keen on electric powered trams (reckon we all are, whats not to like). Peak oil threatens reliable power grid continuity. Any/all contributions therefore very welcome QED.

Apologies that smorgasbord lesser power sources be my hobbyhorse! So here, Pig Poo, Biogas, have laughs but seriously good all our futures:


btw poo-gas brewing been Big in Rural China longtime, we should too long overdue.

Keep smiling, its that or cry.

Brian (thats "Brian-C" if you follow mine explores forums for a side-dish)

Brian said...

Its obvious the Beebnews is set as my homepage !!

Here be an interesting proposal, its about bus support but shows some MP brain cells capable of glimmering in useful direction, see what you think:


Jeff Harris said...

The majority of the cost of reopening the Portishead line comes down to the necessary Resignalling to run passenger trains. currently the line uses a single line token block system which allows there to be one train between Ashton Junction and Portbury Docks, without putting in a new system you would only be able to have one train between Ashton Junction, Portbury Docks, and Portishead, and it would be impossible to run a decent passenger service, AND maintain the contracted minimum available freight paths. the best option would involve extending the double track through Ashton Junction Level Crossing to Ashton Gate Station, and then going to single track with a passing loop at Pill. this would allow a decent passenger service to be run and acheive the minimum freight paths.

Jeff Harris
S+T Technician
Bristol Panel