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, February 25, 2012


(Isfield 4.7.1977 copyright Steve Sainsbury)

When madman Beeching was cutting railways for no good reason really useful routes like Lewes-Uckfield which provided a superb alternative to the London-Brighton line were closed. Since closure in 1969 there have been endless calls for its reopening - perhaps the following will make that happen more quickly, because this really is a reopneing that is LONG overdue!

Chaos on railways causing cancellations

OVER-RUNNING engineering work is causing chaos and delays on the Southern Trains network this morning.
Southern have said the works being carried out at Balcombe are causing delays of up to 60 minutes on routes to Brighton, but passengers commuting through Horsham and the Arun Valley were experiencing long delays as well.
Trains running south from Horsham are currently running between 25 and 45 minutes late and some trains towards London have been cancelled.
Passengers are being warned of short notice alterations and cancellations and to check before they travel.


Anonymous said...

The 60's and now are two completely different era's. You can't totally blame Richard Beeching for the misdemeaners of railway closures in the 60's when all the public wanted was the freedom of owning their own way of transport.This was a whole new concept for the people of that decade and i doubt that they cared to much as we do now for the closures. Wrong it may have been but you just can't turn back the clock. Attacking the reasons for closures by using todays problems with fuel costs don't stack up. If branch lines were to reopen at a very costly price i doubt whether it would be cost effective.

Sunshiner said...

I don't think I'd be so shallow as to impart both retrospective knowledge and a consrquent lack of moral fortitude to Dr Beeching - it's just if he hadn't wielded the axe with so little regard to the future our job would be so much easier! Please allow me my demon, it's grist to the mill!

On a more positive point I'd like to investigate the freedom of owning their own transport angle, as an actual participant in that I think it will be an interesting diversion!

Anonymous said...

I think this counrty has a habit of not thinking towards the future, it's all about the now. There are plenty of mistakes that have effected us badly over the decades making things more difficult today. Most countries simply mothball their rail routs but we tend to destroy them. I think the general public in the60's/70's had little regard for anything considered outdated. This includes some fine building that have disapeared over the years. Now we wish to preserve what we can and undo the mistakes of those era's. Not an easy job.

Knoxy said...

looking forward to the future, means learning the lessons of the past. history goes on and on, often repeating itself.

its not hindsight that we are in the mess we are. it was predicted and ignored.

Sunshiner said...

Marion King Hubbert predicted Peak Oil for the USA back in 1956. He predicted the year of Peak Oil in the US to be 1970. He was laughed at. Peak Oil in the US hit in 1971, he was a year out. He also predicted global Peak Oil would occur, which is common sense. You're right of course, the UK government EVEN BACK IN 1963 knew that oil would eventually run out, or more realistically become so expensive that road traffic would eventually be unviable. No idea why they then not only phased out steam rather than developed it but also went about destroying thousands of miles of railway lines that THEY MUST HAVE KNOWN would be needed again! Perhaps something to do with the evil Marples, government transport minister at the time, who actually OWNED a road building company. I detest conspiracy theories but I don't think this is one, there was a symptomatic and almost psychotic desire to destroy a vital piece of national infrastructure which could last basically for ever and replace it with something so transient that future generations will only shake their heads in disbelief when they look back on these times!

Bunny said...

I think there was some pretty vindictive axe wielding going on - akin to when the automotive companies in the US were allowed buy up, then close tram systems, in order to drive people into buying cars. I think the real issue at present, is that cars seem to be synonymous with the "freedom to go anywhere and do anything I want", and any perceived attack on car travel is an attack on people's fundamental human rights, therefore eliciting quite strong responses. I believe that the pro-rail lobby has to make the argument that improved rail connectivity, and strong interchanges with buses and cars, is essential to maintain freedom of movement for all. Interesting how a single point of failure can cause so much chaos at the moment, when if we had a truly integrated transport system of multiple modes, we might have several options for getting to work/holiday etc. At the moment, there's only one - and that's by road.

El Capitano M said...

I think the first commentator makes a fair point about judging Beeching from a modern day perspective. However, only a decade on from the infamous axings, the oil crises of the 1970s and a growing awareness of the environmental consequences of a ruthlessly road-centric transport policy ought to have acted as a wakeup call to safeguard the trackbeds and other infrastructures of at least the more important of the closed railway lines against further encroachment from development with a view to their possible future revival. I recently watched some footage on YouTube of the demolition in the 1980s of the fine S&D viaduct at Blandford. Sadly, and all too predictably, the lessons of only a few years previously had evidently already been lost on the powers that be (or were).

Worthing Wanderer said...

The Lewes - Uckfield link wasn't a Beeching one. It was a concerted camapign from the road lobby at the time which wanted improvements through Lewes. The rail line was in the way. Funny thing is the road scheme was pretty much obsolete almost from day 1!

Sunshiner said...

I seem to remember that Beeching wanted to close the entire route from Oxted to Lewes via Uckfield though I may be wrong. The Lewes-Uckfield closure was in 1969 but I'm sure it was proposed (in the more extreme form) in the Beeching Plan.