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!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


(All pics Honeybourne 27.7.2011 copyright Tim, courtesy Brian Clarke)

Three shots taken a few days ago (27 July) showing the engineering work taking place on the Oxford-Worcester line, returning the stretch through Honeybourne to double track.

Insanely part of this route was singled in the 70s, like a few other stretches (the Salisbury-Exeter route being the most notorious). This immediately reduced capacity and caused built in delays - one might almost think that this was closure by stealth. The 70s were a VERY strange decade. Rail was of course finished, in its death throes, and cheap petrol coupled with a huge expansion of the road netwoirk, using a fuel source that would NEVER run out was the future. How things have changed!

Roads are no longer built, a million people have given up their cars in the last year in the UK, apparently because of 'expensive' fuel (do they have any idea what lies ahead LOL??) and new railways are bring built everywhere.

I just wish the 90% of the population that don't yet use the trains would actually realise this!
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Anonymous said...

i think that mostly all the rail routes closed by beeching/marples in the sixties should be reopened and electrified ... i dont know what your views on HS2 are but i think the money should be used for rail reopenings e.g. cheltenham- swindon- andover and southampton and the great central and woodhead route through the pennines and also the old LSWR routes into cornwall and devon see the James May toys series along the devon cost. oh and also the old DNS from didcot over the berkshire downs to newbury winchester cutting the journey times to the south coast by 30 minutes (estimate) thus avoiding the reading bottleneck and the A34 lol.

Sunshiner said...

We've always argued for a reopening of just about all the Beeching-closed routes. As a start ...

Followed by the building of a huge network of locally financed, owned and operated interurban tramways and light railways to fill in the gaps.

Plus the switching of all freight to rail (inevitable in any case but let's do it properly!) which will involve the construction of thousands more miles of industrial railways.

With electrification of all routes except those less heavily used routes that can utilise wood burning steam as a sustainable energy source.

How we create that extra generating capacity for the new transport system is a problem but it could be introduced incrementally together with a huge energy efficiency drive, which the switch from road to rail (inevitable with the end of cheap energy) will make easier.

Interesting times! The New S&D is a tiny and insignificant part of this process, but we can all only do a small bit each to make it happen sooner rather than later.

Sunshiner said...

And HS2 is pretty irrelevant, a prestige political white elephant which totally fails to appreciate the changes that lie ahead. Really a railway for the 20th century motorway age rather than the 21st century railway age.

And High Speed railways are notoriously energy-inefficient, much better than roads but not a good investment for an energy constrained future.

brynes@ntlworld.com said...

As a supporter of railways generally, but particularly this stretch of the old OWW railway, which I travelled on from Kingham to Paddington occasionally for some years, I was amazed when the line was singled although its intended fate could have been even worse. You can therefore imagine my delight when this redoubling project, which had been talked about for some time, actually started to happen and they haven't hung about either! You probably know that the previous old Honeybourne platform sides and edging slabs have all been saved for re-use at the rebuilt Broadway Station site on the Glos Warks Railway. The workforce at Honeybourne also unearthed much of the old water crane base which has now gone to the GWR at Toddington too. It is the intention, if all goes well, for the Glos Warks Railway to operate into Honeybourne Station in the not too distant future and, although Honeybourne Station will probably never be as impressive as it was in steam days, it may be possible for us one day to replace that wonderful running in board which read: "Honeybourne Junction change here for Stratford on Avon Branch, Warwick, Leamington, Birmingham, Broadway, Winchcombe and Cheltenham." Toddington wasn't mentioned! Indeed, railways are on the way back but we cannot stop pushing, even though the door is opening!

Anonymous said...

I concur with this article, however the story goes much further, Politics need to be buried along with jobs for the boys-scarce financial resources must be spent wisely ie long term and for the greater good of all and not a few fat cats. The Southern railway management and innovation of the thirties and forties is what this country requires today. Redoubling of downgraded railways is an excellent way to start.

BertieBeatlefan said...

I think I concur with most of what has already been posted. HS2 is a ridiculous idea, but I am beginning to think there is a hidden agenda here. I have been a life-long student of railways and their operation, as have most of my contemporaries, and yet I have never heard so many of these voicing such strong opinions AGAINST the building of a railway! I too, truly believe we should join the 'anti's' of HS2 and voice our opinion to get other railways re-opened and/or re-doubled. Not only that, but there are plenty of stations on existing routes that should be reopened - and without delay! The money wasted on HS2 will benefit so many more people if this is done - and it must be done.

Brian said...

Feedback from blog viewing of recent rail capacity increase works piccies has been copied to Tim as he won't have time to browse this sort of thing on internet himself.

Tim says 8-8-11 he is heavily involved in the Cotswolds line redoubling, spending 3 days this week and also next week up there on site visits etc, including taking various photos (I think he means both for his/public view interest, and for Work uses). The engineering blockade started last Friday night and goes on until Mon 22nd August. Tim observes its a huge job costing nearly £70m to put right singling of line from Beeching era.

Anonymous said...

Hope it's ok to metion this here but there's now an e-petition to get the salisbury to exeter line redoubled.


I believe this route will need to be upgraded as it could play an important role in bringing materials by rail to rebuild the S&D as well as furture passengers and freight. Something it will struggle to do in its current state.