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, August 24, 2011

britain's booming seaside ...

Three shots from Bournemouth at the weekend. Whilst the Air Show was on, this still shows the pure pulling power of the place! A hot August in Bournemouth would normally pull out visitors in their thousands.

British seaside resorts are booming. A lot of people who used to fly abroad are choosing to stay in the UK - no waiting at airports, language problems etc. And to think how much easier it will be in the future when all these visitors will all be coming in by train. No more vile car parks, busy roads etc, just a pleasant built environment, pollution free and safe.

A million fewer drivers on the road, a million extra cyclists in the last year. The pattern's clear, our car culture is now dying, right at the start of the beginning of the end of cheap oil. I doubt it has much power to survive the real oil price shocks that are coming. All investment will now be going to railways, tramways and cycleways. The S&D should be right at the top of the queue for that investment. It's a total no-brainer. Whilst Bournemouth does still have a rail link it is orientated towards Southampton and London. But visitors like us come from Bristol - difficult to do reasonably by rail, cost and time-wise. And of course from much further - the Midlands and Northern England. They need a direct link with through trains, from places like Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham etc. Capacity restraints will very soon kick in on Bournemouth's only remaining line that can carry this traffic. And bear in mind that freight traffic will explode over the next couple of decades.

And of course people living in the huge Bournemouth-Poole conurbation will need to go in the other direction. The S&D will also allow them to access Exeter, Devon and Cornwall by changing at Templecombe - bringing extra traffic to the Salisbury-Exeter route, once notoriously singled but which I can see needing long stretches of quadruple track in the not-too-distant future. Who knows, the LSWR's one time plan to build a line westwards from Dorchester to Exeter tapping into the many seaside resorts between will finally be built! All this upgrading and new build should help to ease capacity restraints in this part of the world, assuming demand doesn't go too high ...
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Anonymous said...

I have never seen B'mth so crowded!
What were the car parks like?
How did they all get there and back?
Were there any special trains?Were there any big traffic hold ups?
I assume that many were day trippers.
The S&D closure was ridiculous.
More power to your elbow New S%D.

Anonymous said...

Why build a whole new line to take in the seaside resorts between Weymouth and Exeter when the Abbotsbury, Bridport (for West Bay), Lyme Regis, Seaton, Sidmouth and Budleigh Sulterton branches could all be reopened as light rail projects as they are cheaper to build and maintain. In the case of Seaton there is alrady a light rail system in place and this could be extended to Seaton Junction, the station of which is still in existence.

Sunshiner said...

It depends on how traffic develops. I generally favour the light rail option where possible as it is a better user of resources. I simply don't think that the cheaper option will be considered to the same extent once the railways really start coming back. Could these towns only provide small freight/passenger flows suitable for light rail or is the potential much greater?

My point was that if capacity is too strained there is the option of reviving this earlier proposal of bringing main line trains to the resorts along the coastline, which may turn out to be a better option. (This is why Dorchester South had such a strange platform layout until the 1980s, the up platform was actually built on what would be the alignment of this direct line).