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!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

happy 137th!

Midsomer Norton South

Happy 137th birthday to the Bath Extension, which opened on this day in 1874. This section of line now has one restored station running trains (Midsomer Norton South), one restored privately (Masbury) and one cleared and ready to start rebuilding (Midford). That'll be the Ms done!

This stretch of the line was probably the finest section of railway in England and certainly the most missed. With its fantastic scenery and huge variety of trains it was really the jewel in the crown of the heritage movement - but seemed to be missed first time round!

The glory days of the Bath Extension are really ahead of us. As more and more of this stretch of line reopens the reality of its return will become clear to everybody. Towns and villages along the route will once again have a modern transport system on their doorstep, linking them to the outside world once again and protecting them from the worst effects of Peak Oil. And the heritage movement, particularly locomotive owners, will have available the finest line on which to fully show off their magnificent machines.

The S&D community should stop 'celebrating' closures, and start celebrating openings and reopenings - there are going to be very many ahead of us. The tables really have turned and the S&D is very clearly on its way back after 45 years of that ridiculous and now obviously temporary closure.

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