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!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

agm 2012

Back from an excellent New S&D AGM! Good attendance with members and visitors coming from Bournemouth, Bath, Herefordshire and Weston. The venue was excellent and we had a fun meeting (should AGMs be fun?) and set the New S&D on course for this year.

Main developments of course are Midford and Spetisbury, both of which should proceed to planning permission at some time either this year or next. Plans for Midford should be drawn up shortly, Spetisbury will follow after the site has been cleared and we can see what's in place!

We've certainly moved from the initial stages where most questions involved whether an S&D revival was practical! We are now actually facing the realities of the step by step reinstatement of this important main line - which in a way is far more interesting and certainly more rewarding, if a little more complex!

Expect a lot of new developments in 2012. We really do now have an excellent team in place to speed up this most important task - but there is always room for more to join us!


Anonymous said...

Great to hear! I can't wait to see the developments on here. With regard to track-laying, what are the respective plans for Midford and Spetisbury?

Sunshiner said...

With Midford it's a cramped site with poor access, so even laying track would be difficult. That doesn't mean it won't happen, and of course it will happen when the Radstock-Bath section is restored in its entirety, but until then it may be rather a misallocation of resources. But the membership may of course decide differently and be keen to see track at the station for purely cosmetic purposes.

Spetisbury's a little different. There's certainly room for track as this section was double track, so a single track could easily be laid alongside a resited trailway - this is similar to the situation at Shillingstone. There is more scope for real rail development at this site even before full Blandford-Poole reopening, with the line clear to the north for some distance (with the bonus of including the excellent Charlton Marshall station), southwards there's a missing bridge not far from our southern boundary, but then the route's clear to just before the site of Bailey Gate station. It will be a case here of gently adding trackbed and track, and of course with a potential 3 miles or more of trackbed there could be the possibility of operating some sort of demonstration rail service, perhaps using Parry People Movers, but it will all depend on whether it's economically viable.

Although I've not yet looked at phase 3 (if we think of Midford as phase 1 and Spetisbury as phase 2) in any detail, my own view (for what it's worth) would be that phase 3 should be an engineering base where we can develop and test sustainable rail vehicles. If this could connect directly with a Bailey Gate-Charlton Marshall length of test track this would be a huge bonus!

So - in five years' time - I see Midford as a fully restored station but probably without track, the building serving as an information office and shop. And I see Spetisbury as a bit more of a rail project with the station fully restored, again serving as an information office and shop, and perhaps a refreshment facility, with at least a short stretch of track but possibly no actual rail vehicles.

Knoxy said...

sounds good to me...

I'll be giving a hand at the Midford end and sometime maybe i'll show up at the Spetisbury end as well?

a bit of track laying at Spetisbury should cause a stir? More of the S&D returning. great stuff.

Sunshiner said...

Exactly - more of the S&D returning!

That's exactly what we're about. The rest, as they say, is all propaganda!