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!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

scaremongering - let's consign it to the dustbin

(What's really happening - 70 005 at Bristol Parson Street 21.6.2011 copyright Steve Sainsbury)

This month's Railfuture Rail User Express carries a feature on the Ayr-Stranraer line. It mentions that Stena is switching its ferry service from Stranraer to Cairnryan soon and, to quote -

When one considers that the Stranraer line provides the only rail link with the other part of the UK Scotland has a direct connection with – Northern Ireland – it seems strange in this era of climate change that the Scottish Government is overseeing the continual run down of the Stranraer line. It may now only be a matter of time before the railway to Stranraer is closed. The Stockton Haulage Yard has been taken out of use and the Stranraer Town Yard offered for sale.

(see highlighted)

What utter rubbish! No railway is ever going to close again in the UK, or anywhere else for that matter, and this is plain, ignorant scaremongering. If anything not only will this existing route flourish but the line to Cairnryan will eventually reopen (it was a military route) and also the far more important Stranraer to Dumfries line, amazingly closed in 1965 even though it was the direct route to Stranraer.

Note that the quote only mentions Climate Change and totally ignores Peak Oil! Are the Scots really that far behind? I don't think so.

Rail closures were a 50s, 60s and 70s thing. That was FORTY years ago. Since then lines have reopened (particularly in Scotland!) as have hundreds of stations. It is idiotic to talk of closure - whilst the shipping route across to Larne will almost certainly survive Peak Oil the roads definitely won't, so the ONLY way to get to Stranraer will be by rail.

Rail supporters' groups should NEVER employ this tactic. It is forty years out of date and only serves to set up a feeling of hopelessness which will hardly bring activists in. And not to mention Peak Oil is unbelievable in 2011.

I look forward to travelling to Stranraer and Cairnryan by train in 2031 and afterwards I'll travel up to Ayr and Glasgow to travel on Glasgow's high speed trams!


Brian said...

A "Curates Egg" laid in Bath Guildhall;

Banes local authority Councillors have voted to "shelve" plans for controversial park-and-ride at Bathampton Meadows, which will please those upset by impending loss of this "green space".

Also scrapped (in same announcement) is "Rapid Transit" bus route through Bath. The "Transportation Package" has been "substantially re-engineered" to reduce costs, now a bid for £17m central Govt funds to (brace for this bit);

"revamp bus stops and extend three existing park-and-ride" also "improved traffic information for drivers".

So whilst we must wait for more detail before blowing our tops or stamping with frustration, the major investment in Transport for Banes up to presently visible time horizon is indicated just putting down more tarmac on existing grass and glorification of bus stops . I know not what this drivers "traffic information" will be, though cannot hold out much hope of it nixing Bath's longterm travel woes.

Perhaps for now we should just be pleased "The Bus Road" and "Meadows tarmac" balloons are pin-popped. Read Auntie's 14th July take on it here:


One closing point, if you not lost will to live yet. Bozo been carefully photographing early stages "Western Riverside" hideous redevelopment, noting casual building over previously reserved "Transport Corridor" once meant for trams, with grim Soviet-style apartment blocks & wide entrance roads for inevitable roaring flow extra cars. These roads seem to point 90 degrees to any Newbridge bus route (Park&Ride still to be extened as Policy). This suggests Banes may not really have expected go ahead with "bus non-solution" anyway.

Sunshiner said...

There was a feature about improving Bath traffic flows on the news. Obviously with my mind set I assumed this meant proposing trams, which is the obvious solution, but trams weren't even mentioned! Just buses and park and rides. Whilst a park and ride may work with a tram link right into the pedestrian area everything else is just ignored - people sinply will not use buses. The future of buses is limited to the availability of cheap oil and regularly maintained road surfaces!

Brian said...

Potted History: "Bath, Graveyard of Dreams"

Bathonians dont now remember "JMP Report" by consultants who did great job proposing riverside towpath opened up for bicycles. I was grimly proceeding past Gasworks "back in the day" with foldie shopper, carrier bags slung over handlebars, cardboard box on back for groceries, having to lift contrivance over ramparts at intervals placed to "prevent" cycling. Suddenly a man stepped forth with camera, deliberately photographed me like some exotic beast on Safari, then snapped back out of sight. Several years after when riffling through a loaned copy of "JPM", my image was seen printed therein as "evidence of suppressed demand" for said cycle route. Now is main Sustrans paved way, flocking with bicycles. "JMP" sowed idea in collective political mind here.

But it was admission trams might be useful in Bath which set "JMP" aside as "beyond the pale" with local politicos & business honchos. They want only bus, dunno why but thats clear. After burying "JMP" in obfuscatory waffle, a while on up popped Tuddywuddy with standard gauge tram proposal for Bath. Oh no they all intoned, Bath is too small to justify investment. Wait for Bristol trams, they will fling steel arm over to Bath so we get "proper connection". Decoded, jam some other never day.

Tuddy faded from scene. Les Anderson piped up with his minimum gauge tram proposal. Putting aside her knitting briefly, a lady Cllr tut-tutted what about severance to frontages by these trams, being longer than a bendybus. His safety kerbs for track would be "legal trips" inviting litigious cost. Besides, these trams will kill pedestrians, for sure....

Les became old and tired from long years chivvying Bath among many "proposals". I did my best to encourage him, having seen his efforts crushed since leaving Longleat where he built the line with his late father. No, Bath did not want his little trams nor the electric taxi feeders, nor the clever stacker car parks his inventive mind came up with. After one last phone call from Les pleading to buy my rail stack, he finally faded from radar too.

And now you are surprised theres no mention of Trams for Bath ? Get it straight man, it never happened, nobody proposed it, the "reports" all been shredded, right ?

Welcome to Bath, "Graveyard of Dreams".

Knoxy said...

didn't Bath have electric trams and a bit more railway a few years back?

Brian said...

Yes thats true, there was a standard gauge electric tram system in Bath however it was taken out (so I heard) when the equipment became life expired around time motor bus coming into vogue. Some rail used in Stotherts cranemakers Victoria Works probably came from that as it was grooved. Happens they even paved it with setts, too. Main line wagons had fatter flanges set closer "back to back" than the trams however so the grooves got split open somewhat!

Other rails very likely from Bath tram routes I find underground groaning & bending beneath descending quarry roofs like in Swan (Kingsdown) now pustulent with bubbly corrosion in damp air. Dont think Tuddywuddy will have any of that for his souvenirs.

Old pictures show trams reached quite close to me, at least somewhere along Newbridge Road. Hmm, maybe time to point search engine at that, could turn up something relevant history wise. Not much use now though, local authority positively obsessive about removal of tram route still in position largely complete up Wellsway just buried beneath subsequent top surface. I mean, someone might have wanted to run a tram on that, which would not do at all, so out it all came at considerable expense.

The old tram depot used to serve as venue for flea market so one could see a few of wooden boards up in the roof which shielded contact wire where trams were put to bed each night in their stalls. Now its all been enponcificated into toffs dwellings, they made sure any rails left there got grubbed out too. See a pattern emerging at all ?

"Rails along a public road.....the likes of which we shall never see again"

Anyone care to show their knowledge, where was that quote from ? Its from memory but I reckon if looked up would prove about whats printed. The moving finger writes & having writ moves on....nor all your tears, can erase one word of it, sort of stuff.

Toodle pip folks !

Sunshiner said...

The quote is from 'The Wisbech and Upwell Tramway'. Quite wrong of course, since then rails have appeared in Croydon, Wolverhampton, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Nottingham and Manchester and of course in Porthmadog - with passenger steam trains on!

Rails in the street will become very familiar in the coming years, unlike cars which will slowly vanish. The process has already begun ...

Brian said...

Congratulations, thats the correct answer! For your winners prize you get free entry to my current S&D photo challenge, here:


Beware the "elephant trap" on that one.

Hee Hee !