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!

Friday, October 07, 2011

trainspotting in kabul?

I wouldn't recommend it at the moment - as far as I can work out Afghanistan has only ever had a 7km roadside steam tramway, and some of the locals would see western trainspotters as fair game! There are 3 surviving steam engines in Kabul (see above) from this line.

However I've just watched the BBC news in which a senior military spokesman has said that the best option to allow Afghanistan to thrive is to construct a railway network. What a superb idea. It would tie the country together, make imports and exports far easier, give employment and show that Afghanistan is thinking about the future. Interesting that no-one's suggesting road improvements! This is really enlightened thinking and hopefully it will happen, though I suspect it's a country I'll never quite build up the enthusiasm to visit - unless they reopen that steam tramway!


Toddington Ted said...

During the Soviet occupation of AFG, some railway lines were built in the north of the country.Indeed, the only main line railways in Afghanistan are two lines across the northern borders with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Afghanistan’s various leaders have often opposed railway construction, fearing — with some justification — that foreign powers could use railways to threaten their independence. A number of railways were built towards Afghanistan’s borders, only to stop short of the frontier; Amir Abdul Rehman described the British-built line to Chaman as “A knife pushed into my vitals”.
Afghan rulers resisted railway building by Britain, Germany and Russia; this suspicion of foreigners' intentions continues to this day.
However, not all rulers were anti-railway. Abdul Rehman’s grandson Amanullah became King of Afghanistan in 1919, and began to modernise the nation. His plans included railways.

Work began on a new European-style capital city at Darulaman near Kabul. On 15 December 1922 The Locomotive reported “Travellers from Afghanistan state a railway is being laid down for a distance of some six miles from Kabul to the site of the new city of Darulaman, and also that some of the rolling stock for it is being manufactured in the Kabul workshops.”
Three small steam locomotives were acquired from Henschel of Kassel in Germany, and possibly either some carriages or underframe components to use with locally-built bodies. The locos were put to work on a 7 km roadside tramway linking Kabul and Darulaman. In August 1928 The Locomotive reported "the only railway at present in Afghanistan is five miles long, between Kabul and Darulaman."
King Amanullah was overthrown in January 1929, and the railway fell out of use at some point. The locomotives were put into store in the two-road engine shed, then became part of the collection of the Kabul museum in Darulaman.
Plans abound to extend railways into AFG but the current security situation remains an issue.
I can speak from experience when I say that there is little that is not harsh (but not without beauty) in that country. I wasn't able to visit Kabul but Helmand was enough experience for me! Two observations: Afghans are most welcoming but you had better have been invited and there is an expression that Westerners have all the clocks but Afghans have all the time.

Brian said...

Thanks Toddington Ted for history and personal on the spot knowledge which most educational. I could not help but think of all those road tankers we seen on news being blown up out there not so far back by few clocks but plenty time as you quote them. How much easier for those angries to blow up any new railway line like that Aircraftsman Ross fellow did back in his finest days goading the Turk.

Weeny thumbnail piccy looks like classic German Feldbahn to me, with bogus stovepipe chimney stuffed on perhaps? Its difficult to tell the scale but could be 60cm kit which highly mobile in sense of whisked off here or there to be plonked down for a quick session or left in place for years depending on whats needed. Maybe a Koppel product, same company which made my Midget presently draped over with tomato plants and also many escalators in our larger retail shops. When they werent busy makin artillery that is, for the Master Race. If I am right this rusty & crusty be rather a red herring relic in terms of public transport agenda, then or in any future world. Any chance of a bigger photo would be of interest though.

Sunshiner said...

I don't think there's a lot out there, but then I only did a very quick Google search. I wasn't suggesting that something like this had any part to play in Afghanistan's future transport - but was the most appropriate shot I could find in a hurry! Railways are generally more defensible than roads - one of the reasons the Master Race never invaded Switzerland was because the Swiss had placed explosives on all the rail bridges and in the tunnels, maiking invasion very difficult.

Brian said...

Much better photo of rusting Kabul steam loco, monochrome:


Two rusting together:

Scroll down for more pictures including archive ones from way back. 2′ 6″ gauge Henschel (of Kassel in Germany). Still in their shed in 1975. More history too:


Google been very prompt adding Steve's item here, to list of references which come up when searched.