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!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


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(Photo courtesy Jim Type)

This is a nice pre-nationalisation shot of an LMS loco and train running through Binegar.

Binegar is the next station south of Chilcompton. It is one of the locations that is likely to see trains again sooner rather than later, as it lies just a few miles from Midsomer Norton. Almost all the route between Shepton Mallet and Radstock is clear of obstructions, though sadly two of the worst are found at each end of Midsomer Norton's running line. There is an infilled cutting between Midsomer Norton and Chilcompton, and a missing road bridge immediately north of Midsomer Norton station. However these are both obstacles that can be overcome, and once passed the line opens up wonderfully either side. Binegar lies high up in the Mendips so is rather bleak, but on the plus side land values are low!


Knoxy said...

and there is a house to knock down. shouldn't take too long. modren build you see.

Anonymous said...

The Section from Masbury to Shepton Mallet will be an amazing attraction- It has a deep cutting, a tunnel and two impressive Viaducts.

Knoxy said...

It’s pretty good the other way too. Masbury Summit cutting, Nettlebridge Viaduct, Burnt House Bridge and Cutting, Rock cutting, Chilcompton Tunnel, Midsomer Norton Stn, the drop down into Radstock etc, etc, etc...

If this line had survived it would have achieved world heritage status. (my view)

I never saw it live as i was only 3 when it closed, but I have walked enough of it, to get hooked and involved. When it returns in full it will draw people from all over the world to sample the delights of train travel. Not crammed in sealed metal tubes as on the national network, but to sample window open, head out, MK1 style coaches enjoying the thrash over 1-53 gradients, diesel or steam.

It can also provide a quick transport service along the route. Although it wasn’t brilliantly fast in its day, the roads around there are truly shocking. The queue into Bath every morning isn’t a journey I would want to do.

Lightweight diesel units would have saved the line in the 50’s and 60’s, but they didn’t want such a line to survive, knowing full well if it lasted into the 70’s it would never have closed. First they take away all through traffic and then work it inefficiently….

Were the road improvements at Silver Street Bridge a reason for closure?

The government (& Mr Marples) wanted more roads (Marples Ridgeway built some of them), and more fuel tax, road tax, VAT etc. what a short sighted view? Add the costs of war (to maintain the flow of oil) to the roads bill and rail is cheaper by far….