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 14, 2012

more new track ...

An interesting development in Gloucestershire - the last couple of paragraphs are to me the most interesting as the promoter has a very interesting (and to me correct)  take on the number of heritage lines and the surfeit of locos and stock!

Work begins on railway line between Sharpness and Oldbury

Work has started on a new heritage steam railway line in Gloucestershire.

The Beaver line, which stands for Berkeley Vale Railway, will link tourist attractions and businesses between Sharpness and Oldbury Power Station.

The project is being led by Pro Active Vision, a community group made up of steam enthusiasts and local businesses.

Conservative MP for Stroud Neil Carmichael is helping them to secure community funding.

He hopes the investor-led project will benefit from a donation from the government's new Coastal Communities Fund.

He said: "This is an interesting way of thinking about developing a part of the constituency, and I think it should be given the appropriate support. Obviously there will be challenges but the overall objectives are absolutely perfect."

The line will work both to transport the goods of local businesses and link tourists with local attractions such as Sharpness docks, Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Berkeley Castle and the Jenner Museum.

Mr Carmichael added: "Local people - a community group - are getting going with a really interesting idea and a business as well. Linking both of those together and making it possible for people to travel up and down on a steam train would be absolutely fantastic."

The land, which has been leased to Pro Active Vision by Network Rail, is being cleared across the four-mile wide area and track is being laid.

The group's David Heathcote said a lot of the infrastructure is already in place.

He said: "The branch line is already there and it's running, albeit not in brilliant condition, and it will take very slow trains. The rest of the infrastructure is very flat land with ease of being able to put a new light railway development down at a very, very low cost."

Mr Heathcote added that due to a surplus of rolling stock around the country and a lack of heritage lines, he is confident he can find trains and carriages to run on the line.

He said: "Very many people have rolling stock around the country - there are a lot of enthusiasts about. So there is a great deal of this rolling stock that doesn't get a chance to be operated in this heritage railway scenario."


Knoxy said...

what a fantasic picture. nice bridge, pity a ship ran into it, but then that was all the excuse they needed to close that line....

Sunshiner said...

Exactly. The same way they justified closing the Bristol to Radstock line in 1968 after flood damage. When was the last time they closed a road completely??

Nice to think that the cross-Severn route will have heritage lines at both extremes.

Such a shame that Bristol-Radstock-Frome isn't currently providing a modern service to this rail-starved part of North Somerset, though we plan to change that!

Toddington Ted said...

The Banbury-Cheltenham Line was effectively closed at its eastern end in 1958 by a landslip near Hook Norton Tunnel. This section of line had always been troublesome and the restrictions over the 2 Hook Norton viaducts (which had steel spans over stone pillars - the pillars still remain) didn't help. Unfortunately it sealed the fate of a useful cross-country route. This Sharpness project was launched over 12 months ago and has yet to achieve anything except attract abusive comments. There is potential value in reinstating it I believe but current economic issues might prove a struggle as might personalities.

Neil S. said...

I used to live in Sharpness.

I can confirm the line is still there. I can remember it in better order in the Seventies but it still runs into the main Birmingham to Bristol line at ne,Berkeley Junction. Cam and Dursley Station, further down that line was put back in 1994/95. Chalfield awaits reopening despite political hot air for over 20 years.

The link with Oldbury is with Thornbury, some 5 miles apart. Thornbury Station had an excellent delivery service: Oldbury used to have 3 shops including a post office now gone. There are still 2 pubs. Thornbury closed to goods traffic in 1966. There were no passengers since 1944. The Thornbury line is still in place as far as Tytherington Quarry, a mile or so from Thornbury. There are Tytherington and Iron Acton station sites in between the Yate and Thornbury line.

This article is excellent news for the area: commercially, the potential for running goods alone from Sharpness Docks is immense.
Passenger traffic less so But Bristol is a nightmare at rush hour: a five or carriage train could start at Sharpness and continue down the main line to Bristol. Huge benefit to all.

The heritage aspect is also a huge prospect. Do not forget the Stroudwater Canal is on the way to restoration but not as far as the Seven, only the Gloucester-Sharpness Canal.

One word of caution though: please keep away the grubby hands of politicians and PR no-bodies from all these projects as far as possible: their hot air and vacillation cause untold problems.